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Du Bow digestamerican edition july 29, 2011 Du Bow digestamerican edition july 29, 2011 Document Transcript

  • AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.netAMERICAN EDITIONJuly 29, 2011Dear Friends:Sorry this is so late. However, with a trip to Seattle & Los Angeles, friends visitingfrom Germany, the spending of some time in the Berkshires, and the terribly hotweather (too hot to write) I just didn’t get around to it. I hope you didn’t suffer theinformation void too terribly.When I last left you the twin problems of the Gaza flotilla and the impendingdeclaration of statehood by the Palestinians were our major concerns. Well, problemNo.1 was mostly taken care of by the Greek Government but No. 2 is very muchstill with us. September will be a “hot” month with the UN meeting, the Palestinianspushing to isolate Israel and, to make things worse, the Durban III Conference, a UNget-together with the seeming single purpose of condemning Israel taking place.Germany’s vote at the UN on Palestinian statehood and whether or not it willparticipate in Durban III are key questions.However, the Germans aren’t much interested in the Middle East these days. In thelast few weeks they have been thinking more about the economic situation in theEuro Zone and how many more “poor relatives” such as Greece they will have torescue. The French and the Germans have organized a bailout so for the momentthe situation has quieted. It is reported that VW, Deutsche Telekom and Lufthansa(to name a few) are showing increased profits and it looks as if their economy is in ahelluva better condition than ours. They’re thinking profits and we’re thinking debtceilings.Oh well!The summer doldrums may be upon us – but so are the issues. On to the news…IN THIS EDITIONTHE PALESTINIANS & GERMANY – Will Germany play a critical role in the 1
  • upcoming Palestinian attempt to gain UN acceptance of statehood?THE BOOKS RETURN – Those that Hitler didn’t burn.THE CHANCELLOR ANNOUNCES - She’s in it to win it.MORE GERMAN POLITICS – An update and a look ahead.THE TANKS – 200 to Saudi Arabia – Opposition to war has its limits.NEO-NAZIS: NORWAY & GERMANY – The Oslo murders and the German neo-Nazis.NEO-NAZIS IN EASTERN GERMANY – Only a presence or a threat?A PHILOSOPHICAL LOOK AT GERMANY – What sort of a power is Germany?THE PALESTINIANS & GERMANYI don’t have to tell you that a battle is shaping up in the UN as to whether Palestinewill be accepted as a full member. In order for that to happen it must be accepted bythe Security Council. That’s not happening as the U.S. has promised a veto.However, Pres. Obama, trying to keep his bona fides with the Islamic countriesintact, would love not to have to cast a veto. He’s pushing for a return to thebargaining table. Victory in the General Assembly, where there is no veto, is assuredto Palestinian Pres. Abbas (He’s got the votes). The battleground for legitimacy iswith the European countries. Euro unity is an important part of EU’s raison d’etre soa lot of politicking is going on.Needless, to say, Germany’s position is key. Chancellor Merkel has stated manytimes that face to face negotiations, not an independent declaration is the propercourse for the Palestinians. It is the general expectation that she will stick to herguns and veto any Security Council measure granting full UN recognized statehoodto Palestine. What happens in the General Assembly may be another story.The opening salvos in the Security Council were fired earlier this week. Haaretzcarrying a Reuters story reported, “Israeli and Palestinian envoys squared off onTuesday over plans to seek UN recognition of a state of Palestine in September,which Israel rejected as an attempt to bypass direct peace talks.Speaking at a regular meeting of the UN Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinianconflict, Palestinian observer Riyad Mansour said seeking UN recognition would nothurt the peace process and would instead strengthen efforts to achieve a negotiated"two-state solution." 2
  • "The consecration of the two-state solution in bold resolutions -- includingrecognition of the state of Palestine…on the basis of the pre-1967 borders and itsadmission as a full member of the organization -- will help to make the two-statesolution more inevitable," he said.Mansour did not spell out what exactly his delegation plans to propose during theannual gathering of world leaders in September at the opening of a new session ofthe 193-nation UN General Assembly.Western diplomats say the Palestinians have not yet decided whether to seekmembership in the UN as a sovereign state or press for a non-binding resolutionrecognizing a Palestinian state without UN membership.The United States, like its ally Israel, opposes the idea of full Palestinianmembership in the UN at the moment and has made clear it would useWashingtons veto power on the Security Council to block it.With the veto of the U.S. in the Security Council assured, it seems to me that thebattle will pass to the General Assembly. It’s not that the Palestinians can lose there– they’ll win, but the real question is what sort of resolution will pass and who willvote for it. If it’s mostly Arab, Islamic and Third World countries it will carry littleweight. However, if the European countries back it, it will put more pressure on Israeland isolate her more than she already is.There has been some talk that if Palestinian statehood is approved Israel would usethat as an excuse to walk away from the Oslo Agreements. Whether Israel wouldformally kill the face to face talks is not really a question. The U.S. and Germany(among others) would demand that the Oslo Accords remain on the table.So, diplomacy continues (or doesn’t) with next battle ground at the UN right here inNYC. Stay tuned.THE BOOKS RETURNHitler and his cohorts did not burn all the books in the 1930’s. In fact as GermanJews were forced to leave Germany they took whatever books they could carry withthem. Now, 75 years or so later some of these volumes are making their way back –many being put into the hands of German school children.In a Spiegel On-Line story by Helen Whittle she wrote, “German Jews who fled Nazipersecution to what is now Israel took as many books as they could carry. But theirdescendants, many of whom dont speak German, are left with cratefuls ofheirlooms they cant read. Now the Goethe Institute has started a project that sendsthe well-traveled books back to Germany as teaching materials for students. 3
  • (There is) a new project making German-Jewish history and the history of Israelmore tangible for German schoolchildren learning about the Holocaust. This projectrepresents… the extension of a living chain of history for future generations.The birthplace of the new program, German cultural organization the GoetheInstitute…The director of the institutes Jerusalem branch, Simone Lenz, said that inrecent years she has been inundated with … descendants of German-Jewishimmigrants seeking a dignified place to donate their inherited German literature.Unable to accept such donations because of a lack of suitable capacity, Lenzhatched the idea to send the books back to Germany, giving students theopportunity to hold an authentic piece of German-Jewish history in their handscalling the pilot project "Keine leichte Pakete" ("No Lightweight Packages").A small group of high schools in the Münster region are now taking part in hands-onhistory lessons with the books, such as Kloetzels beloved 1890 edition of Goethespoetry. Steven Förster, a teacher at the Christian-Dietrich-Grabbe high school inDetmold said that his students have so far responded positively. "Personallyenvisioning individual fates seems to be a much more tangible approach thananonymous lists of victims," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE.The novels, childrens books, cookbooks and travel guides containing numerousscribblings, annotations and dedications to family members seem to hold a specialhistorical resonance for the young people. Student Charlotte Szymanowski said theproject helped her gain a fuller understanding of the human costs of the Nazi era.Eyal Winter, who along with his father acquired German citizenship in the 1970s, isnow a professor of economics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem where hisfather studied German literature. He and his family approached the book project withgreat enthusiasm, but he feels deep regret that his father, who died in 2007, was nolonger alive to experience it."For me it is a closing of the circle," he said. "The children in Germany who are nowreceiving these books are around the same age that my father was when he wasforced to flee. Here we are keeping history alive and present and not simplysweeping it under the carpet."There is more to this heart warming story. What better way to learn history than tohave in your own hands a book that has a history of its own.Click here to read all of it.http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,774728,00.html 4
  • THE CHANCELLOR ANNOUNCESIf you had any doubts that Chancellor Merkel might give way to some othercandidate in the 2013 national election because her poll numbers have been so lowas of late - fuggedaboutit! She’s running!The Local.de reported, "I have high hopes that the Social Democrats will find me anadversary before the next election," the 56-year-old conservative ChristianDemocrat leader, who has been in her job since 2005 and was re-elected in October2009, told the Sat.1 television channel.Merkel said she was not concerned that opinion polls placed her behind potentialSocial Democrat candidates. "When campaigning comes round, I will put myself intoit with enthusiasm," she said.Two polls last month found German elites were disappointed with Merkel and theperformance of her centre-right government.But the chancellors former rival during the 2009 race expressed confidence thatGerman voters were ready for a change.In an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper, Frank-WalterSteinmeier, who is now parliamentary group leader for the opposition SocialDemocrats, stirred up speculation on who might emerge as the SPD candidate."Two years after parliamentary elections in 2009, it seems theres no question thepublic finds more interesting than which Social Democrat will become chancellor,"he said.A survey by broadcaster ARD put both Steinmeier and former finance minister PeerSteinbrück ahead of Merkel in the polls.The Chancellor is a piece of work. Here she is with low poll numbers challenging theSocial Democrats to find someone who could give her some real competition. Othersin her place would already be thinking about “spending more time with my family”.Not her. With two years to go she is already in full campaign mode.MORE GERMAN POLITICSNormally, in order for a German government to gain a majority in the Bundestagthere must be some sort of coalition of parties. At present, Chancellor Merkel’s CDUis in coalition with the Free Democrats (FDP). Though the next election is two yearsaway, the FDP seems to be losing popularity at an alarming rate. If it remains whereit is, or drops further, no matter how well the CDU does they will not be able to gain 5
  • a majority. No partner, no majority.Some months ago, the FDP reorganized itself and appointed a new Party ChairmanPhilipp Rosler. It didn’t help. The Local.de reports, “Philipp Röslers leadership of thepro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) has failed to lift the partys fortunes, witha new poll showing support sinking back to a record low of 3 percent.The Stern and RTL poll shows Rösler’s leadership has so far barely made a dent inGermany’s tepid feelings toward the party.The party achieved great success in the 2009 federal elections, achieving 14.8percent of the vote under Guido Westerwelle. But Westerwelle was forced from hisleadership position in May after Germans’ support waned.He has become one of the most unpopular politicians in Germany, with only 28percent of voters saying he’s doing his job well, according to the poll.In contrast, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) improvedone point over last week to 33 percent while the Social Democratic Party (SPD) alsogained a point to 25 percent.In one bright piece of news for the party, Rösler, who is also Economy Minister, haswon praise for his plan to shore up faltering Greece by promoting more investment.The respected Cologne Institute for Economic Research lauded the plan as a win-win for Germany and Greece.So, what happens in 2013 if the CDU does well and the FDP doesn’t make the 5%necessary to remain in the Bundestag and their majority is kaput? If the SocialDemocrats (SDP) and the Greens can gain a majority then they take over thegovernment. However, if they cannot get 50% plus one, then in all likelihood the twobig parties, the CDU and the SPD can join together in a “Grand Coalition”. Theyhave been in this position previously and actually did quite well. By the way, in thissituation the party with the most Bundestag seats gets the Chancellor’s position andthe lesser party gets control of the Foreign Ministry. Merkel for a third term? Couldbe?However, we’ve still got two years to go but trying to gainsay the results is almost asmuch fun as trying to figure out who will win the Super Bowl even before the footballseason begins.We’ll stay on top of it for you. 6
  • THE TANKSNot everything the Chancellor or the government does shows great political aplomb.For instance, DW-World.de reported a few weeks ago, “A security source in SaudiArabia said Monday that the oil-rich Gulf state (Saudi Arabia) would be buying 200state-of-the-art Leopard tanks from Germany in a deal that has caused a politicalrow in Germany."So far, Saudi has bought 44 tanks from Germany and in total wants to buy 200tanks from Germany," a security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, toldthe Reuters news agency.The source declined to give a value for the purchase, saying it was a multi-billioneuro deal involving the German companies Krauss-Maffei Wegmann andRheinmetall.The purchase follows a $93 billion stimulus package from Saudi King Abdullah thatincluded extra support for police and security forces. The March handout was aresponse to unrest sweeping through the Arab world."Selling 200 Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia is far from ethical foreign policy," shesaid in front of the Bundestag on Monday. "The country is in the middle of a regionalpowder keg. You shouldnt be giving out matches there."Nahles added that the deal exposed the German governments support of thedemocracy movements in the region as nothing but "hypocrisy" - and that thelegitimacy of Berlins foreign policy had been injured.To add some fuel to the fires, Spiegel On-Line reported, “The opposition in Berlinwas already outraged about a plan to sell 200 tanks to Saudi Arabia. Now, however,a new deal involving the training of Saudi border patrol officers is raising additionalquestions. And some say the German constitution may have been violated.The deal involves a mountain of money: The German deal to sell Saudi Arabia 200"Leopard" battle tanks is worth some €2 billion. Chancellor Angela Merkelsgovernment has yet to directly confirm the deal -- and the opposition is furious .Given the pro-democracy movements in the region, it has demanded that Germanycease making arms deals with authoritarian regimes such as that in power in SaudiArabia.”I think you get the idea. The government isn’t saying anything very much abouteither deal except that they are under consideration and will be transparent whenmade. To again quote one my favorite phrases, “The business of Business isbusiness” In this case it is German industry and the stakes are very high.Last, but certainly not least, the question of Germany’s moral standing has beenbrought into question. The Local.de notes, “More than six decades after World War 7
  • II, Germany has quietly become a major weapons exporter, with its sales growing toabout 10 percent globally. That puts it behind only the United States and Russia,according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), whichstudies the weapons trade.”Incidentally, the question of whether the tanks might someday be used against Israelhas not been raised. Some see Israel and Saudi Arabia as unofficial joint partnersopposing Iran. Perhaps that’s the reason.We’ll try to keep an eye on the two deals in question. Stay tuned!NEO-NAZIS: NORWAY & GERMANYThe horrific events in Norway have had implications for the extreme right inGermany. The mass murder by Anders Behring Breivik has sent the neo-Nazileadership scurrying for cover so as not to be associated with the Norwegian killer.D-W World.de reported, “Manfred Rouhs, chairman of the German far-right party,the Pro Germany Citizens Movement, … refuted the notion that there weresimilarities between European right-wing parties and Breiviks ideology."Conservatives are for preservation, for adherence to certain rules, and Christiansare driven by their love for their fellow human beings," Rouhs told Deutsche Welle."The message of destruction and hate that Anders Breivik has brought into the worldhas nothing to do with Christian or conservative values."Nevertheless, commentators have questioned whether the attack is a sign thatextreme-right wing ideology is taking hold in Europe. "One thing we have seen overthe past two decades across Europe has been rising support for far-right politicalparties," said Matthew Goodwin, an expert on far-right politics at the University ofNottingham.In 2010, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party won its first seats inparliament, and the Freedom Party in the Netherlands became the third-largestparty in the country.Matthew Goodwin warned that among the growing support network for far-rightparties is a minority of extremists who are likely to share Breiviks ideology."Within this movement, this very broad subculture, I think its fair to say that thereare inevitably within each country a handful of would-be Breiviks, guys who areprepared to undertake violence," Goodwin said.I assume that Breivik’s attorneys will seek an insanity plea – and maybe the guy iscrazy. It’s probably reassuring to most of us if he’s considered insane. Then he’s not 8
  • like the rest of us – Thank God! However, I’m holding off on any judgment until thepsychiatrists can talk to him and come up with some sort of a diagnosis. It’s just tooeasy to say that someone who kills a lot of people is insane. Unhappily, we knowfrom the Holocaust that perfectly normal people when subjected to a radicalphilosophy can act on it violently while maintaining themselves as totally rational inall other aspects of their lives. Certainly, Breivik came under the influence of such anextreme philosophy so, in my book, he could be normal but not normal. Get it?No matter what, the Breivik affair is horrendous. Hopefully, there are no more likehim around. However, the radical philosophy (right and left) is and that does notauger well for peace, security and civility.The next item (below) should worry us all.NEO-NAZIS IN EASTERN GERMANYThrough the good offices of my friend Ruth Bloch in LA I was made aware that anew report of neo-Nazis in Eastern Germany had just been published. A scan of theInternet revealed a good article about it that appeared in Die Welt. It noted,“According to excerpts of a new report obtained by Die Welt, which will be officiallypresented in Berlin on Friday(Ed. Note: Already released), acts of violence --attempted murder, bodily harm, arson, disturbance of the peace -- perpetrated byright-wing extremists have shot up in the eastern part of Germany.Overall, the number of right-wing extremists has fallen and presently stands at25,000. However, the number of neo-Nazis who would be prone to violence hasincreased by 600 to 5,600. Among militant neo-Nazis is a group called the‘’Autonomous Nationalists,’’ which has 1000 members. They function as mirroropposites of left-wing autonomists; right down to copying the latter’s way of dressingin black hoodies, black baseball caps and sunglasses.According to the report, both sides regularly engage in street fights. In 2010, right-wingers injured 232 left-wingers, while the latter caused injury to 308 right-wingers.Anti-Semitism is the link that binds all the various right-wing extremist groups. Thereport mentions 1,166 criminal offences due to underlying ‘’extremism or anti-Semitism.’’ In addition to acts of violence, the report says, there were 16,375,politically motivated criminal acts in 2010 by right-wing extremists of which 11,384involved displaying swastikas or giving the Nazi salute.It’s the last paragraph that specifically caught my attention. The fact that the reportstates that, “Anti-Semitism is the link that binds all the various right-wing extremistgroups” is very depressing. However, it is not unexpected. Perhaps we can takesome solace in the fact that there are something like 82,000,000 people in Germanyand “only” 25,000 who are right wing extremists. Incidentally, the report was issued 9
  • by the Saxony’s Special Commission on Right-Wing Extremism. There are variousgovernmental and non-government groups watching this kind of activity and that isall to the good.A PHILOSOPHICAL LOOK AT GERMANYThe first journalist I met when I started working in Berlin (1997) was Malte Lehmingof Der Tagesspeigel, a Berlin daily. He eventually went on to become theWashington correspondent for the paper and then returned to Berlin to be the ChiefEditor of its Opinion Section. Malte knows a lot about the U.S. and, of courseGermany. When I accompany groups to Germany I try to get the participants to meethim. He’s always worthwhile to listen to and to talk with.Malte recently wrote a piece in his paper which was translated into English andprinted in TheLocal.de entitled, Germany’s Humble Strength. In it he posits,“Compared to the United States – a strong but often unscrupulous country –Germany in the past was long seen as weak but overly moralistic. America wagedwar around the world, toppled dictators, made billions of dollars worth of tax cuts,while Germany appealed to the world’s only superpower to protect the climate andgive terrorists a fair trial.But now that relationship has changed. The United States has become weaker, butis still fairly ruthless. Germany is stronger, but still extremely prone to high-mindedmoralizing – even while considering the sale of hundreds of tanks to Saudi Arabia.Can this new balance hold?Germanys position has also shifted within Europe. Theres an unspoken but clearlydiscernible belief in Germany politics now: "Were a major player, and were good!"Strong and evil – that was Germanys image in its dark past. Weak and good – thatis the Germany the world has known for the past 40 years. But strong and good –that is the new Germany that many neighbors and allies still have to get used to.Power and moral superiority – that can be an extremely annoying combination.Thats why it might not be a bad twist of fate that the country is currently being led byunpretentious, almost completely anemic politicians. President Christian Wulff,Bundestag speaker Norbert Lammert and Chancellor Angela Merkel: no-one couldseriously accuse any of these people of arrogance and finger-wagging.What could be seen as a flaw – weak leadership – has become, from a globalperspective, an advantage. Because one thing we know: the teacher’s pet may beforgiven many things – except being a braggart. The stronger and more moralisticGermans feel, the more humble they should present themselves on the internationalstage. 10
  • There is no question that Malte uses strong language in this article when referring tothe U.S. (If the translation is correct) However, I do think it is the kind of languagethat many Germans (and many Europeans) use among themselves when they thinkand talk about the U.S. However, I don’t believe Malte is a U.S. hater. Anyone whogets up at 3:00 or 4:00 am to watch the Super Bowl can’t be all that anti-American.The point of my excerpting from this article has nothing to do with the U.S. It is theanalysis of Germany’s place in the world and what its role should be that isimportant.*******************************************************************************************See you in August.DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted byclicking here.Both the American and Germany editions are posted atwww.dubowdigest.typepad.comClick here to connect. 11