Transcript of "DuBow Digest American Edition May 15, 2013"
1AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINIONNEWSLETTERdubowdigest@optonline.netAMERICAN EDITIONMay 15, 2013Dear Friends:My trip to Germany was great! Accompanying the American participants in the 33rdannual Exchange program AJC has with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) was atreat. The program Ingrid Garwels of KAS worked out for the group (Hamburg andBerlin) was exiting, interesting and all the other adjectives in-between. The impressionsand thoughts I had during the six day experience can be read in a following article(below). The best part was seeing old friends.Germany is in a pre-election mode. There is discussion about the September vote butso far there’s very little electioneering. A few speeches. That’s it! Conversely, theAmerican election is 3 ½ years away and there are already attacks against prospectivecandidates and practically daily polls about who they might be.The trial of the last remaining member of the Nazi murder gang has gotten the attentionof the German public but, by and large, I did not discern any major events or issues thatwere burning up the front pages or the German consciousness. It seemed to me thatthe Federal Republic was in a “business as usual” mode with people going about theirlives in a normal manner. If this is the “European Socialism” that some of our politicianswere (and still are) denouncing, all I can say – it ain’t bad!On to the news…IN THIS EDITIONPERSONAL IMPRESSIONS – What I saw. What I think.GERMANY & ISRAEL: A SECURITY COUNCIL UP FOR GRABS – A not so friendlydispute.A NEW POLITICAL PARTY – The Alternative for Germany party (AfD) thinks Germany
2should ditch the Euro.NEO-NAZI PRISON NETWORK – Of course there is one. Why should anyone besurprised?THE NEO-NAZI MURDER TRIAL – The last of the murder gang faces justice.NAZI EUTHANASIA – Not well known in the U.S., there was a precursor to the wayJews were liquidated in the Holocaust. The Nazis used it - on their own citizens!DEMOCRACY EDUCATION – AJC started it right after World War II. AJC Berlin is stillat it.JEWISH CEMETERIES & THE U.S. GOVERNMENT – A surprising governmentprogram.PERSONAL IMPRESSIONSAs noted above, I have recently returned from Germany where I staffed the Americandelegation that participated in the 33rdannual Exchange program between AJC and theKonrad Adenauer Foundation.I thought it might be useful if I shared some of my impressions – for whatever they’reworth. Please keep in mind that they are personal impressions and are not based onscientific research. To be crystal clear, they are mine alone. My Exchange colleaguesmay have different perceptions.Interestingly, one of the delegation members recently wrote, ―What struck me was thesense that we all unconsciously identified strongly as Jews and as Americans and thatthis was a common bond that informed our impressions of the Germans, both Jewishand non- Jewish. It is likely that the pervasive memory of the Holocaust that permeatedthe experience reinforced everyones Jewish identity.‖I totally agree!Our delegation met with many German leaders and almost universally they felt thatwhile Israel’s security was one of the cardinal underpinnings of German governmentpolicy, it received much more support from the “political elite” than it did from the publicat large. Much of the public sees Israel as an aggressor and the Palestinians as victims.Events in the Israel – Palestinian area are seen through that filter.It was pointed out that German political decisions are frequently made by the politicalleadership without broad public support and that the public mostly catches up andsupports the decisions that have been made. That raised a question for me as to therole AJC should be playing in Germany. Should focus be on the leaders or the publicand in what sort of programmatic mode should it operate?
3After thinking it over I concluded that Deidre Berger, AJC’s Berlin director, is exactlyfollowing the right course. She has established and maintained contacts with thepolitical leadership as a primary goal while at the same time, for example, promotingprograms for tolerance education and leadership in public schools. AJC as a resident (inGermany) voice plays an important role in Germany.In a discussion I had with a German friend he told me that an American single-issuepro-Israel organization was planning to set up an office in Berlin. He indicated that itwould be a waste of money as “lobbying” doesn’t work in Germany. As I’ve pointed outpreviously in this newsletter it is the political party that is important in Germany notindividual legislators. I doubt that the Israel Embassy people would welcome any groupthat barges in and does not understand the delicate workings of German politics.On the other hand, occasionally public demonstrations are needed and it was generallyconcluded that the German Jewish community cannot rally many people to participate.Even in Berlin, the largest Jewish community in Germany, the turnout is almost alwayspaltry. They’re just not up to doing that yet.As a community they are still developing.When considering the “political elite” Israel has no better friend than Chancellor AngelaMerkel. As far as her future as the leader of Germany is concerned, that will bedetermined in the September national election. There is no question that she is the mostpopular politician in Germany but whether she will be able to cobble together a coalitiongovernment remains a question.If there is one overarching political feeling prevailing in Germany it is pacificism. TheGermans have had enough of war and atrocities. It made them a pariah nationsomething they have been trying to overcome since the establishment of the FederalRepublic. Most are horrified by the fact that there was a neo-Nazi murder gang whokilled 10 innocent people. The last remaining member is on trial for that crime. However,there are very mixed emotions about the process of outlawing the neo-Nazi NPD Party.An attempt 10 years ago ran afoul of the courts. This time the legislative branch wants astrong case that will make it through this time. The fact that there are two statelegislatures that have seated NPD members, in my opinion, puts that horrified feelingsomewhat in question. I felt that most of those we discussed the matter with werestrongly opposed to the NPD but were not very clear about what to do to get rid of them.I have been working on this Exchange program since it began. In looking back over athird of a century, not surprisingly, I noticed a considerable change in the thinking of theAmerican participants. Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s the AJC participants came toGermany on edge, very suspicious and looking for signs of Nazism in almost everyonewe met. This year’s group, of course 20 or 30 years more removed from the Holocaustcame, I felt, with a much different point of view. AJC has now had its office in Berlin formore than 15 years and the organization itself has been steeped in American Jewish –German programing. I got the impression that our delegation members had open mindswilling to see the positives as well as the negatives. The fact that Germany’s democracyhas grown and developed has also been internalized with many more American Jewsseeing it in a more favorable light than they did 30 years ago.
4We got a very mixed and somewhat confusing picture of how the Jewish community inGermany is progressing. In Hamburg, a city-state with about 8,000 Jews has a stablepopulation with a Jewish school plus one main synagogue and a couple of muchsmaller ones. They were without a “Land (Chief) Rabbi” for a couple of years but finallycame to terms with the Chabad rabbi who had been placed in Hamburg by thatorganization several years before. The lead Chabad rabbi in Berlin has now beenaccepted by the local government for funding. That is a major change.There is no question that the dedication and organizing abilities of Chabad have giventhem an important place in the development of Jewish life in Germany. However, thevast majority of Russian Jews who came to Germany in the last 20 years are still on theperiphery of Jewish life. Of the more than 200,000 (We heard as high as 300,000) Jewsnow in Germany 110,000 are “registered”. There are many more who either choose notto be organizationally affiliated or do not qualify because they do not fulfill the Halachicrequirement of having a Jewish mother.The delegation member who I quoted earlier also wrote, ―I was also struck by the verysmall size of the German Jewish community, and their own efforts to form a cohesivecommunity despite the usual differences of opinion (on matters which are really trivial inthe context, but seem to be important to them). I dont think the Jews from the FSU [Ed.Note: Former Soviet Union] will be a real part of that community for a long time, if at all,but may, rather, end up being something separate and different.‖Perhaps he is correct. There is no question that as former Soviet Jews come intoleadership roles their agendas will be more front and center. I hope they will not be“separate”. However, “different” is something else again. No doubt they can add a lot oflife to the community. Maybe “different” will be the factor that puts the community in aposition to survive and prosper.On the subject of “survival”, it appears to me that many of the smallest communities willnot survive. We have the same problem in the American South. There must be a solidenough base with enough infrastructure in order to continue on. Many of the small citiesin Germany don’t have it. What me may see is a smaller number but strongercommunities.One thing is for certain though. The sons and daughters of the Russian Jews inGermany will grow up as Germans. They will be educated in German schools and go toGerman universities. Some will leave Germany but many will stay and move intoleadership positions in political and economic life. Their impact is yet to be seen – butit’s coming! It’s certainly happening already in the Berlin Jewish community where agroup more oriented to the needs of the Russian Jews defeated the old line leadershipin the communal election.GERMANY & ISRAEL: A SECURITY COUNCIL SEAT UP FOR GRABSWhen Germany and Israel have disputes, they are usually over the Settlements
5question and, normally they are handled quietly away from the media. However, thereseems to be a disagreement over which country should try its luck at getting atemporary seat on the UN Security Council.The Jerusalem Post reported, ―Jerusalem is miffed at Germany‘s decision to vie for aseat on the UN Security Council in 2019, a move which would weaken Israel‘s alreadydistant chances of sitting on that influential body for the first time, The Jerusalem Posthas learned.Israel‘s and Germany‘s respective candidacies will be raised when Foreign MinisterGuido Westerwelle arrives in Israel on FridayOne diplomatic official said news that Germany would be vying with Belgium and Israelfor one of two slots reserved for countries from the UN‘s Western European and Others(WEOG) regional grouping was received with ―discomfort‖ in Israel.The official said that while Germany was very sensitive to Israel‘s security needs, ―thereis not the same kind of attention and sensitivity to Israel‘s battle for internationallegitimacy.‖A seat on the Security Council, or even being a serious candidate for such a seat –especially at a time when the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is trying todelegitimize Israel – is seen in Jerusalem as important because it sends the messagethat Israel is a ―normal country like all others,‖ the official said.While the official denied that the issue represented any kind of diplomatic crisis withBerlin, he did say Israel intended to enter into a dialogue with Germany over this matterand convey the importance this two-year membership would have in cementing Israel‘slegitimacy at a time when that legitimacy is under attack.Germany, meanwhile, is interested in eventually securing a permanent seat on theSecurity Council, is the third-largest contributor to the UN after the US and Japan, andhas had a policy over nearly the past three decades of being on the Security Councilevery eight years. Germany finished its last term on the council in 2011.One German official said that ―active support for the UN has always been a foreignpolicy priority for Germany. This includes regular German applications for one of thenon-permanent seats in the UN Security Council, and will be continued.‖The official added that, ―as we have proven on so many occasions, Germany alwaysstrives to coordinate closely with Israel.‖While Israel began the process of campaigning for the 2019-2020 slot as early as 2005,Germany only began recently because under UN regulations, a country can onlydeclare its candidacy for one of the 10 non-permanent slots after it completes itsprevious term on the council. Israel was informed at the highest levels of the Germandecision before it was made public.
6Candidates for one of the non-permanent seats on the council – the US, Russia, China,Britain and France are permanent members – are allocated according to regional blocs.As of 2000, Israel became a member of the 28-strong WEOG regional group, a movethat opened the door to Israel‘s possible participation in the Security Council.I have the feeling that this matter will be handled and solved, perhaps, when ForeignMinister Westerwelle visits Israel. Perhaps it’s not even worth reporting. However, whenit comes to national imperatives – and the UN is certainly in that category, there is somepushing and shoving even among friends and that is important to know about.A NEW POLITICAL PARTYThere’s a new Party in town. The Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) launched itselflast month.According to Spiegel On-Line, ―Interest in the group has been growing inrecent weeks, but pollsters say its chances of landing seats in the federal parliamentthis fall are still slim.‖…" Theres even a punchy slogan: "Straight talk instead of S€datives". Bernd Lucke, the50-year-old who is co-founding the party and will likely be its first national leader, saysthe mood is "euphoric."The Alternative for Germany party wants to shake up the traditional party landscape inthe country during federal elections this September with its message of "putting an endto the euro." The party is calling for the "orderly dissolution of the euro currency zone."So what do they want to do, return to the deutsche mark? Lucke describes that path as"one option." The party still hasnt defined much in terms of its party platform, but itsfounders have argued for the right to hold national referenda as well as streamlining taxlaws. More than anything, they aim to attract voters with their "no" to the commoncurrency.According to The Local.de, ―The new anti-euro party Alternative for Germany (AfD)could tip the balance in the upcoming election regardless of whether it makes it into theBundestag, according to a prominent German political expert.At its core, AfD wants Germany to abandon Europes single currency, the euro. Despiteplenty of evidence that Germany has benefited from the single currency, the partyssupporters are in particular fed up with funding bailouts of weaker eurozone nations.A mere two percent in the votes for the euro-skeptic party could cost Chancellor AngelaMerkels conservatives (CDU/CSU) their majority and push their junior coalition partnerthe pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) under the five percent threshold to get seats inparliament, according to Prof. Oskar Niedermayer from Berlins Free University."Im very skeptical as to the prospects of this party entering the Bundestag, but thatdoesnt mean its not politically relevant," he said.
7But Niedermayer is reluctant to class the party, which backs a German exit from theeurozone, as right-wing populist."The party can certainly be classified as a protest party, having been created out ofprotest at government policy during the euro crisis. [But] one should not place it in the[populist] category yet, even if some of the wording of its [party] platform gives thatsuspicion," he said.Will the Alternative for Germany be important? At this point one must put it in the “Whoknows?” category. When the Pirate Party rocketed on to the scene last year and wonseats in state parliaments it looked as if it would have national strength and make aplace for itself in the Bundestag when the 2013 election took place. It didn’t happen.Internal strife and, most important, a failure to outline a reasonable program on theimportant issues of the day has practically destroyed it.So far the Alternatives (if there are any) have only a negative “get rid of the Euro”platform. I understand Prof. Niedermayer’s point of view and maybe in the long run hewill be proven right and the AfD could affect the election outcome. However, they’ll haveto do a lot more than have a glitzy launch in order to make an impact. So far all theyhave is a name.NEO-NAZI PRISON NETWORKWhy should we be surprised if in German prisons there is a neo-Nazi network? In ourown prisons there are all sorts of extreme right-wing connections among incarceratedfelons. However, given Germany’s history, when word about such connections leaks outit is even more shocking than when we hear about similar stories right here in the goodold USA.However, when German prisoners are in touch with a murder gang, that is seriousbusiness. Last month DW reported, “A network of neo-Nazis has been discoveredoperating in German prisons. They maintained contact with the far right terror group,NSU, whose alleged last member goes on trial next week. [Ed. Note: The trial waspostponed].The public has been shocked by the latest revelations from the world of German neo-Nazis. Authorities have found out that right-wing extremists in prison have beencommunicating with like-minded inmates under the guise of being involved with anorganization that supports imprisoned right-wing extremists.Even worse is the allegation that several of them also maintained contacts with the far-right terror group, the National Socialist Underground (NSU), which is alleged to havekilled 10 people - mostly migrants - over a period of seven years.The center of the aid organization was evidently Hünfeld prison in the German state ofHesse, the states Justice Minister Jörg-Uwe Hahn admitted, telling regional television
8that the organizations initial activities could be traced back to Hünfeld.The investigators found out about the network after they collected and analyzed lettersand other private documents in several Hessian prisons over a period of weeks. Theyworked out that the members of the network were communicating via secret messagesin letters and small ads in ordinary magazines. According to German newspapers, theyused innocent-sounding words and symbols.The neo-Nazi prisoners who are alleged to have been involved in the network have nowbeen transferred from Hünfeld to a variety of other prisons, and checks on far-rightprisoners have been stepped up.In addition, prison wards are being trained to recognize neo-Nazi tattoos. Hahn says theneo-Nazis often give themselves away with their tattoos, but he admits that the guardshad until now not paid enough attention to them.It’s bad enough that such a group existed but, frankly, there is no way of really stoppingit. Prisons worldwide are the perfect breeding grounds for all sorts of extremistconnections. The Germans officials are doing exactly what they should. Separation ofthe prisoners and the training of prison personnel are about as much as can be done.However, it’s only a matter of time until the next neo-Nazi associations come to light. It’snot going away anytime soon.THE NEO-NAZI MURDER TRIALI would not want you to think that neo-Nazi activities, prison associations and trials arethe only things going on in Germany. That would be totally incorrect and misleading.However, the neo-Nazi murder gang and the trial of its last remaining member (plusaccomplices) that I have been reporting about have captured the interest of the mediaand the general population as well.Reuters reported, ―The surviving member of a German neo-Nazi cell went on trial onMonday for a series of racist murders that scandalised Germany and exposed thesecurity services‘ inability or reluctance to recognise far-right crime.The chance discovery of the gang, the National Socialist Underground (NSU), whichhad gone undetected for more than a decade, has forced Germany to acknowledge thatit has a more militant and dangerous neo-Nazi fringe than previously thought.Beate Zschaepe, 38, is charged with complicity in the shooting of eight Turks, a Greekand a German policewoman in towns across Germany between 2000 and 2007, as wellas two bombings in immigrant areas of Cologne and 15 bank robberies. Her twopresumed male accomplices both committed suicide in 2011.In a tailored black suit, white blouse and big earrings, and with her long hair lookingglossy, Zschaepe‘s appearance in court was very different from the surly mugshots that
9have been splashed over German media ahead of the eagerly-awaited trial. One of fourother defendants charged with assisting the NSU hid under a dark hood.The case has shaken a country that believed it had learned the lessons of the past, andhas reopened a debate about whether it must do more to tackle racism and the far right.―With its historical, social and political dimensions, the NSU trial is one of the mostsignificant in post-war German history,‖ lawyers for the family of the first victim, flowerseller Enver Simsek, said in a statement.The German parliament is conducting an inquiry into how the security services failed forso long to link the murders or share information, despite having informers close to thegroup.The head of Germany‘s domestic intelligence agency resigned last year after it emergedthat files documenting the use of informers in the far right had been destroyed after thediscovery of the NSU.Politicians have accused the intelligence agencies of being ―blind in the right eye‖ and offocusing so much on Islamist groups that they overlooked the threat from the far right.We here in the U.S. are as intrigued by murder trials as are the Germans. My guess isthat when the remaining Boston bomber gets his day in court the media blitz will be justas intense as the one referenced above. However, there is a big difference. The Bostontrial will raise questions about terrorism and the security system in the U.S. The neo-Nazi trial deals with that as well. However, more importantly it raises questions aboutGerman society and the destructive force that once almost totally destroyed the countryand still has hidden life somewhere in its entrails. Boston is an “outside force” question.Munich is one that deals with the country’s “kishkas”. A Yiddish dictionary will tell youwhat that is but I think you already know.NAZI EUTHANASIAMost important to a society that intends to cleanse itself from its past ills is to talk openlyabout them. Most of us who have read about the Holocaust, and especially the gassingof Jews in the death camps, think that this was the first instance of such a horribleundertaking. It wasn’t!According to The History Place, ―In October of 1939 amid the turmoil of the outbreak ofwar Hitler ordered widespread "mercy killing" of the sick and disabled. [Ed. Note: InGermany!]Code named "Aktion T 4," the Nazi euthanasia program to eliminate "life unworthy oflife" at first focused on newborns and very young children. Midwives and doctors wererequired to register children up to age three who showed symptoms of mentalretardation, physical deformity, or other symptoms included on a questionnaire from theReich Health Ministry.
10A decision on whether to allow the child to live was then made by three medical expertssolely on the basis of the questionnaire, without any examination and without readingany medical records.Each expert placed a + mark in red pencil or - mark in blue pencil under the term"treatment" on a special form. A red plus mark meant a decision to kill the child. A blueminus sign meant a decision against killing. Three plus symbols resulted in aeuthanasia warrant being issued and the transfer of the child to a Childrens SpecialtyDepartment for death by injection or gradual starvation.The decision had to be unanimous. In cases where the decision was not unanimous thechild was kept under observation and another attempt would be made to get aunanimous decision.The Nazi euthanasia program quickly expanded to include older disabled children andadults. Hitlers decree of October, 1939, typed on his personal stationary, enlarged "theauthority of certain physicians to be designated by name in such manner that personswho, according to human judgment, are incurable can, upon a most careful diagnosis oftheir condition of sickness, be accorded a mercy death."Questionnaires were then distributed to mental institutions, hospitals and otherinstitutions caring for the chronically ill.Patients had to be reported if they suffered from schizophrenia, epilepsy, seniledisorders, therapy resistant paralysis and syphilitic diseases, retardation, encephalitis,Huntingtons chorea and other neurological conditions, also those who had beencontinuously in institutions for at least 5 years, or were criminally insane, or did notpossess German citizenship or were not of German or related blood, including Jews,Negroes, and Gypsies.A total of six killing centers were established including the well-known psychiatric clinicat Hadamar. The euthanasia program was eventually headed by an SS man namedChristian Wirth, a notorious brute with the nickname the savage Christian.The German euthanasia program has been written about extensively over the years.However, every once in a while it comes to the forefront to, I guess, remind the currentcitizenry what can happen in a corrupt society. It’s part of the cleansing process.Recently, a new book has come on the market by historian Goetz Aly. He wasinterviewed by Spiegel On-Line. It begins, ―Some 200,000 people who were mentally illor disabled were killed in Germany during the Nazi era. The cynical name for theextermination program was "euthanasia," which means "beautiful death" in ancientGreek. This horrific past has shaped the way Germany treats the terminally ill and thedisabled. Germanys laws on assisted suicide are restrictive, and the country has stricterrules on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, a form of embryo profiling, than most otherEuropean countries.The interview is complicated. Mr. Aly himself has a disabled daughter and much of it is
11about her and the way it is dealt with. However, moral questions about assisted suicideare dealt with as is the history of euthanasia in Germany.Aly notes, ―There was no resistance to the euthanasia murders from the leftist orsecular side of society. The notion of a healthy society, of capable people who are ableto enjoy life, arose in the liberal, middle-class, leftist and non-religious segments ofsociety. The euthanasia idea came from neither the radical right-wing nor theconservative corner. It was and remains part of the modern age and progressivethought. Its just that nowhere in the world was this way of thinking put into practice quiteas radically as in Nazi Germany. Assisted suicide is a very accepted practice in someEuropean societies that are closely oriented toward modernity.The Aly interview only deals with the Holocaust peripherally. However, for the purposesof this newsletter I thought it important to point out that euthanasia was somethingpreviously practiced in Germany. Getting rid of “imperfect” people was nothing new andis a stain on German history. Mr. Aly gets high marks in my book for writing on thesubject. You can read the entire interview by clicking here.http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/historian-goetz-aly-on-nazi-euthanasia-program-and-inclusion-debate-a-896209-2.htmlIf you are further interested in the subject you can Google “Nazi Euthanasia”. There is agreat deal to read.DEMOCRACY EDUCATIONIt’s pretty obvious that if you wish to instill proper thinking about democracy the place tostart is in the schools. The AJC Berlin Office (Ramer Institute) has as its major focusfighting anti-Semitism, German – American Jewish relations, Israel – German relationsand those sorts of political issues. However, perhaps less well known is the fact that itsdirector Deidre Berger also feels that AJC Berlin has a responsibility to its host countryas well. Therefore, it has developed a major democracy education program for thenation’s schools.It was recently reported, ―AJC‘s innovative core values curriculum, ―Hands for Kids,‖ isnow available to all 400 elementary schools in Berlin. The initiative was announcedtoday by Berlin State Secretary Sigrid Klebba and AJC Berlin Director Deidre Berger.More than 350 students and teachers attended the annual ―Hands‖ Children‘sConference in Berlin, where the announcement was made.―The Berlin government is committed to the importance of learning the basics ofdemocracy and we want everyone to be involved,‖ said Klebba. ―The ‗Hands for Kids‘program is attractively produced and can certainly be an impetus for schools to dealwith issues of democracy and participation.‖The curriculum promotes core democratic values of equality, respect, fairness andtolerance. It was piloted in several dozen schools in Berlin and Brandenburg. The
12popularity of the program prompted the Berlin state government to print copies of thecurriculum for all Berlin elementary schools.―When, if not in their earliest years, should children learn basic concepts of respect andtolerance?‖ asked Berger. ―Starting early is the best way to counter anti-Semitism,xenophobia and extremism.‖―Hands for Kids‖ was developed jointly by AJC Berlin, the German Society forDemocratic Education (DGD), the Berlin State Institute for Education and Media(LISUM), the Brandenburg Regional Working Group on Education, Integration andDemocracy (RAA), and the Berlin Ministry for Education, Youth and Science. Additionalfunding was provided by the German Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women andYouth.The program deepens understanding of community by promoting the use of classcouncils as early as first grade to teach children the basics of verbal expression,respectful dialogue and problem-solving. The curriculum provides detailed informationabout class councils, service projects and peer work that help foster basic group,leadership, and social skills. Chapters on children‘s rights help pupils develop empathyfor the lives of others, and provides tools for social engagement.―We developed this program with German partners to help children understand theirrights, embrace core values and gain exposure to democratic decision-making models,‖said Berger. ―The success of ‗Hands for Kids‘ demonstrates that children can graspbasic concepts of mediation, conflict resolution and consensus in their early schoolyears, creating a positive school environment that sparks creativity and helps defuseconflicts.‖The ―Hands for Kids‖ program is based on principles in AJC‘s pioneering ―Hands Acrossthe Campus‖ core values curriculum, developed in the 1980s in response to ethnicconflicts in the Los Angeles school system.After a surge of right-wing extremism in Germany in 2000, AJC Berlin began workingwith German government officials and educators to create model curriculum to promotecore democracy values. The 2006 German version of ―Hands Across the Campus‖ wasdeveloped with funding from the Ford Foundation and the German federal government.A second edition was issued in 2011.―Hands for Kids,‖ the first core values curriculum for German elementary-school pupils,was first published in 2011. In addition, AJC, LISUM and the Berlin state governmentpublished ―Active Against Anti-Semitism,‖ a handbook for junior-high and high-schoolstudents from migrant backgrounds that fosters understanding of Judaism, theHolocaust and the Middle East.All I can add is that I believe this sort of thing is of vital importance and that Deidre andAJC should keep doing what they’re doing. They’re on the right track.JEWISH CEMETERIES & THE U.S. GOVERNMENT
13The U.S. Government is involved in all sorts of activities that don’t seem particularlyuseful or germane to its primary purpose. However, every once in a while you comeacross one that does seem essential and even tugs at your heart strings – especially ifyou’re Jewish.Did you know that there was a Government agency called “The US Commission for thePreservation of America’s Heritage Abroad”? Well, there is such a thing and The Timesof Israel recently reported that it is, ―…a body established by law ―to identify and reporton cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings in Eastern and Central Europeassociated with Americans and to obtain assurances from foreign governments thatthese properties will be preserved.‖Many, but not all, of the commission‘s projects are focused on Jewish sites in formerCommunist Bloc countries that have fallen into disrepair in the decades since WorldWar II due to inadequate care, commercial interests and the effects of time.Despite the Jewish philanthropic world‘s near obsession with young adults and ―Jewishidentity,‖ Weiss [Ed. Note: Lesley Weiss, Chairman] says there are still plenty ofAmerican Jews interested in connecting with their past.In Central and Eastern Europe, the state of Jewish cemeteries and abandonedcommunity buildings is grim.Thousands of sites are decaying as small Jewish communities lack the resourcesnecessary for their care. In places like Poland and the Czech Republic, survivingcommunities of a few thousand are responsible for the upkeep of massive cemeteriesthat were administered by far larger Jewish centers before the war. In Poland, a Jewishcommunity that once numbered 3.5 million today stands at 40,000. In Slovakia, close to100,000 Jews resided there before the Holocaust; today, there are around 3,000.Last year, a special Council of Europe rapporteur for Jewish cemeteries found a numberof instances of burial grounds in Eastern Europe that have been turned into ―residentialareas, public gardens, leisure parks, army grounds and storage sites — some havebeen turned into lakes.‖ Eventually, the Council adopted a nonbinding resolution placingresponsibility for the care of Jewish cemeteries on national governments.The Commission, while focusing on Jewish sites, also deals with churches and all otherreligious properties that have fallen into disrepair. Almost all are in Eastern Europe.I haven’t done a survey but my guess is that very few of the Jewish sites are inGermany. In my 30 years of traveling around the Federal Republic one thing I havenoticed is that in many communities that no longer have any Jews the Jewishcemeteries and at times the local synagogues have been restored. Of course, not all,but provision for restoration of these sites have been handled by the local towns andvillages with the cooperation of the Jewish leadership in the nearest community that,indeed, has an organized Jewish community.
14To read more about the Commission click here.http://www.timesofisrael.com/after-the-survivors-only-the-stones-will-tell-stories/*******************************************************************************************See you again in JuneDuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted byclicking hereBoth the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com