Duy bow digest american edition july 24, 2012
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An American Jewish - German Information & Opinion Newsletter

An American Jewish - German Information & Opinion Newsletter

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Duy bow digest american edition july 24, 2012 Document Transcript

  • 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.netAMERICAN EDITIONJuly 24, 2012Dear Friends:With the summer vacation season upon us here in the U.S., in Germany it’s that plusa lot more. It seems as if everybody is “out to lunch” – lunch there is a 24 hourhappening and it runs (usually) for 6 weeks. They get a lot of vacation – and theytake it!One has to dig through their newspapers to find much that is really of note. Ofcourse, the Euro may go “belly up” causing some absolutely devastating economicrepercussions. I’m guessing here – but I think many Germans feel that if it’s going tohappen, well, let’s hope it doesn’t mess up our summer vacation. If I was in a coolspa in the Alps somewhere I’d feel exactly the same way.When news is sparse, small matters look bigger. For instance, a Russian operasinger, Evgeny Nikitin happens to have a swastika tattooed on him somewhere andthat caused him to opt out (or be pushed out) of the Wagner Opera Fest inBayreuth. No one seems to know why he has a swastika (it’s one of many tattoos hehas) but there it is and there he ain’t anymore, at least in Bayreuth. It madeheadlinesPresidential hopeful Mitt Romney, in his upcoming European & Middle East jaunt,had hoped to come to Berlin and meet Chancellor Merkel. It was reported (widely)that his advisors touted him off of it because they were afraid he couldn’t come closeto the 200,000 person turnout that Barack Obama had in 2008. In addition, theChancellor wasn’t available as she was to be in Bayreuth for the Fest. Tickets, evenfor a Chancellor, are as hard to come by as for Kentucky basketball games, andthere are some things you don’t pass on.On a somewhat more serious matter, those politicos who have been contemplatingthe outlawing of the neo-Nazi NPD party are in trouble. It seems that someone in theBundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (You’ll have to read below to find out what that is)shredded secret service files and now a lot of the evidence is gone. 1
  • 2. You can’t make these things up.Enough already! Let’s get on with the news (such as it is)…IN THIS EDITIONAPOCALYPSE SOON? NOT YET! – But maybe soon. The Euro like my NY Metscan’t seem to get its act together.GERMAN ARMY JEWS – Yes! There are some.OBERMAYER GERMAN JEWISH HISTORY AWARDS – Do you have acontestant?THE CIRCUMCISION WARS – A German court causes a worldwide problem.BUNDESAMT FÜR VERFASSUNGSSCHUTZ (BfV) - Keep reading. You’ll find outwhat it is below.GERMAN STUDENT FRATERNITIES – They should stick to beer and coeds.However, some seem “political”.ISRAEL & THE EU – Can something good be happening?APOCALYPSE SOON? NOT YET!In the last number of months there have been numerous discussions, meetings,planning events and God knows what else in order to try to save the Euro. Finally, atthe end of June some sort of a complicated 12th hour temporary kind of agreementwas reached with Chancellor Merkel backing down somewhat so that Italy and Spaincould have a little more financial breathing room. The German Bundestag voted infavor of the agreement. If you follow such matters you have already read about it. Ifnot, click here a Spiegel On-Line explanation. According to the article she did notcome out so badly after all. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/merkel-concessions-at-euro-crisis-summit-smarter-than-they-seem-a-841772.htmlMaybe the agreement will do the job in solving the Euro financial problems. Iwouldn’t bet on it. There are such wide differences between the various Europeancountries involved that it is very difficult to get anything to work long term. When youare dealing with such dissimilar cultures and national needs, you are dealing with,perhaps, irreconcilable differences. (See your local Divorce Court)What would happen if some of the European nations said “Bye Bye” to the commoncurrency? Would it really be such a disaster? About a month ago Der Spiegel 2
  • 3. (Spiegel On-Line) took a crack at what might happen if the impossible becamepossible. Read it and you’ll shiver. However, you should remember that, at least forthe time being, the inevitable has been put off. What appears below was writtenbefore the latest agreement.Investment experts at Deutsche Bank now feel that a collapse of the commoncurrency is "a very likely scenario." German companies are preparing themselvesfor the possibility that their business contacts in Madrid and Barcelona could soonbe paying with pesetas again. And in Italy, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi isthinking of running a new election campaign, possibly this year, on a return-to-the-lira platform.Nothing seems impossible anymore, not even a scenario in which all members ofthe currency zone dust off their old coins and bills -- bidding farewell to the euro, andinstead welcoming back the guilder, deutsche mark and drachma.It would be a dream for nationalist politicians, and a nightmare for the economy.Everything that has grown together in two decades of euro history would have to bepainstakingly torn apart. Millions of contracts, business relationships andpartnerships would have to be reassessed, while thousands of companies wouldneed protection from bankruptcy. All of Europe would plunge into a deep recession.Governments, which would be forced to borrow additional billions to meet theirneeds, would face the choice between two unattractive options: either to drasticallyincrease taxes or to impose significant financial burdens on their citizens in the formof higher inflation.Until now, the defenders of the euro have been able to resort to the massive fundsof the ECB, if necessary. If things got tight, the monetary watchdogs could injectnew money into the market.But now even the ECB has largely exhausted its resources. It has already bought upso much of the sovereign debt of ailing countries that any additional shopping spreethreatens to backfire, causing interest rates to explode instead of fall.Its also clear, says Hamburg economist Dirk Meyer, that the timetable for a euroexit in the affected countries would begin on a Monday, or "Day X." Over theweekend, the governments would have issued the surprising announcement thatbanks would remain closed on Monday. The bank holiday would be needed toinclude all savings and checking accounts in the operation.On Tuesday, the banks and savings banks would begin stamping their customersbank notes with forgery-proof ink. Capital transactions would be monitored. Blackmarket prices would quickly develop in what the scenario defines as an "unofficial,virtual currency market." Another bank holiday would be needed to convert accountsand balances to the new currency. But at least another year would pass before newbank notes could be printed and distributed. The stamped euro banknotes would 3
  • 4. remain legal tender in the meantime.O.K.! That’s enough! I think you get the flavor of what might happen – and I haven’teven touched on the damage that would be brought down on the various worldeconomies including our own. Germany would be particularly hard hit. Theworldwide damage should be understood in 1929 terms. We would be living in adifferent kind of a world for a long time to come.You should read the entire article which you can do by clicking here and pray for thecontinuation of the Euro.http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/fears-grow-of-consequences-of-potential-euro-collapse-a-840634.htmlHowever, in the last few days it seems that the Germans feel as if the worst kind ofdisaster could be averted and all European banks and institutions are trying toposition themselves for a Greek departure. The Germans are not willing to cough upanymore funding feeling, I guess, that it would only be more good money going afterbad. Pray harder!GERMAN ARMY JEWSWhile at one time it might have been unthinkable, the post World War II integrationof Jews into all facets of Germany society is continuing apace. Why not? There aresomewhere now between 200,000 and 250,000 Jews living in Germany. While manyof those from the former Soviet Union are not citizens, some are. When those areadded to those whose families have been in Germany since before 1989 you havequite a few.While it still may seem an oddity that there can be German Jewish militarypersonnel, to younger people, I believe, it is not an anomaly. There are, indeed,Germany Jewish patriots and some have volunteered to serve, Toby Axelrod writingin JTA recently reported, “Michael Fuerst signed up in 1966 and is likely the firstJew to do so in West Germany. The Jewish community called him “the shmuck fromHanover who joined the army,” he recalls with a laugh.To Jews from the outside, such patriotism may seem odd. But like all social andlegal institutions in West Germany (which carries over to today’s unified Germany),the military was remade in a democratic image.One major difference is that soldiers are empowered to disobey a command if theybelieve it would lead to a criminal act. And unlike in Hitler’s day, soldiers do notswear allegiance to the Fuehrer “but to uphold the constitution and defend thefreedom of the German people,” Fischer said. 4
  • 5. The earliest records of Jews in Germany go back to the fourth century. Lt. Col.Gideon Romer-Hillebrecht, the co-editor with 1st Lt. Michael Berger of a new tomeon “Jewish Soldiers-Jewish Resistance in Germany and France,” says Jews mayhave fought in Germanic troops as early as the 13th century. But it wasn’t untilNapoleon’s conquest of the western regions that Jews were granted equal rights --including the right to be drafted, Romer-Hillebrecht told JTA.In World War I, more than 100,000 Jews served -- that was about a fifth of the totalJewish population at the time -- and about 12,000 died on the front. Hitler laterblamed Germany’s defeat on Jewish soldiers.Fuerst, an attorney who has chaired the Jewish Association of the State of LowerSaxony since 1980, said his grandfathers and uncles served in World War I, “butnobody was protected by that.” Some of his relatives fled Nazi Germany to theUnited States, but his paternal grandfather died in the Riga ghetto. His mothersurvived Theresienstadt.“I am a German patriot, but you know, I know exactly what happened here,” Fuerstsaid. “That is the difference between the normal patriot and the Jewish patriot.”Fuerst was born in 1947 in Hanover, his father’s hometown. In 1966 he signed up tobecome a paratrooper -- the only one of his Jewish friends to join the Bundeswehr.“I always heard from my other friends that I am German, so there were nodiscussions in my family about whether I would go to the army or not,” he said.During the 1967 Six-Day War, he considered fighting for Israel. “For me it was notso easy. I thought, ‘How can I get to Israel?’ But after five days I did not have tothink about it anymore,” Fuerst said.“I have no dual loyalty,” he adds. “I have loyalty only for Germany and for myJewishness.”Still, his fellow soldiers sometimes admired him simply because they looked up toIsraeli paratroopers, Fuerst says with a laugh.Fuerst says he rarely experienced anti-Semitism, either before or during his service.But he balked during an early military apprenticeship when a captain told thetrainees, “Don’t be so loud: You’re not in the Jew school.”. Fuerst asked to be transferred to another course. The captain responded, "It isgood that you request this because I have to tell you, I am an anti-Semite … All theproblems we have in Germany were brought to us by the Jews.”The captain was dismissed from his post the next day. 5
  • 6. I have known Michael for a long time. He is an outstanding human being and aleader among the Jews of Lower Saxony. Probably a bit too old to serve any longeron active duty, I can understand why he probably made a great soldier.You can read the rest of the article by clicking here.http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/06/26/3099236/germanys-jewish-patriots-find-a-home-in-the-militaryOBERMAYER GERMAN JEWISH HISTORY AWARDSEvery year Arthur Obermayer of Newton, MA gives awards to non-Jewish Germanswho have contributed to maintaining German Jewish history.Arthur notes in his press release, “As righteous gentiles who protected Jews during theHolocaust are becoming fewer, a newer generation of non-Jewish Germans today is keepingalive the memory of former Jewish communities in Germany.These people are honored each year as recipients of the Obermayer German Jewish HistoryAward. Nominations are submitted by Jews from outside of Germany, many of whom haveancestral connections with particular communities in Germany and/or who lost relatives inthe Holocaust.These awards, which are co-sponsored by the Berlin Parliament, are given in its PlenaryChamber each January at the time of the German Holocaust Memorial Day. They arepresented to five individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to preservingJewish history, culture, synagogues, cemeteries, and so forth, in their own local communitiesPast awardees include: a primary school principal who, for the past 18 years, has had her sixth-grade classesprepare bricks, each with the name of a local Holocaust victim, as part of a wall which nowhas 1,000 bricks stonemasons who restore dilapidated gravestones a banker who has raised funds to rebuild a destroyed synagogue an individual who provides small memorial plaques in the sidewalks where Holocaustvictims had lived a filmmaker who has contrasted the experiences of teenage Jews and non-Jews during theHitler era a business executive who organized and raised funds to move a long-abandonedsynagogue to a new location 30 miles away. 6
  • 7. teachers who, with their classes, have extensively researched and recorded the history ofJews of their communityNominations for these awards are currently being solicited, and must be submitted bySeptember 24, 2012. The winners will be selected by a jury of seven eminent andknowledgeable individuals. The Call for Nominations and information about past awards andawardees can be found at http://www.obermayer.us/award.If you know of someone who might receive such an award please contact Arthur atthe website listed above.THE CIRCUMCISION WARSAccording to Y-Net News, at the end of June a German court ruled that, “Non-medical circumcision is a "serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of thehuman body,” An article in Germanys Financial Times said that the ruling rendersreligious circumcisions performed by Jews and Muslims a crime.The Cologne District Court addressed the issue after a Muslim doctor performed acircumcision on a four-year-old boy. Two days later the boys mother brought thechild to the emergency room because he was bleeding.Charges were subsequently brought against the doctor, who was found not guilty inthe first instance, but the prosecutor appealed."The ruling is enormously important above all for doctors because its the first timethat they have a legal certainty," Holm Putzke of the University of Passau told theFinancial Times.“The court has, in contrast to many politicians, not allowed itself to be scared by thefear of being criticized as anti-Semitic or opposed to religion,” Putzke said."This decision could not only affect future legal rulings but in the best case it couldlead to a change of consciousness among the affected religions when it comes torespecting the basic rights of children."While the ruling in the District Court had no affect on the national level, the hue andcry from Jews and Muslims throughout Germany and, indeed, the world reachedfever pitch. According to Israel Hayom, “European Jewish Congress President Dr.Moshe Kantor called the ruling an assault on religious practices.”We would hopethat in Germany of all places where there is a high level of sensitivity to suchfreedoms, Jewish life would be allowed to flourish without restriction." Kantor calledon the German government to "take a clear stand against this ruling and [fall] in line 7
  • 8. with the German constitution, which guarantees religious freedom."The German government is usually very sensitive to Jewish concerns. .ForeignMinister Guido Westerwelle said Sunday that a legal debate "must not lead todoubts arising internationally about religious tolerance in Germany. He said in astatement: "The free exercise of religion is protected in Germany. That includesreligious traditions."Perhaps the most embarrassed person on the issue is the German Ambassador toIsrael Andreas Michaelas. He’s caught between a rock and a hard place. The Timesof Israel reports, “While some German lawmakers are considering draftinglegislation that would enshrine parents’ rights to circumcise their children, there islittle else the German government can do about last month’s decision by a localcourt that effectively outlawed the procedure, Berlin’s ambassador to Israel saidMonday.“I ask for your understanding that the federal government — I represent Germany’sfederal government here in Israel — respects the independence of the Germanjudiciary. That is no different by us than it is with you. Therefore, my abilities tocomment on this judgment are limited,” Ambassador Andreas Michaelis told theKnesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee.Yet Michaelis emphasized there is no law in the German books that prohibitscircumcisions and that the controversial court ruling only applies locally. “This verdictis not binding for other courts. It’s a decision based on a single case,” he said.We’re in a “wait and see” situation at the moment. Members of the Bundestag aretrying to fashion an acceptable law that will allow religious circumcision. So, as I saidabove, let’s wait and see!While we’re doing that the fallout from the court decision is not without some terribleconsequences. Haaretz reported, “Two Swiss hospitals temporarily suspend allcircumcisions, pending a reassessment of policies; a German court recently ruledthe practice illegal.”…the Zurich childrens hospital announced that it was temporarily haltingcircumcision operations. "We are in the process of evaluating the legal and ethicalstance in Switzerland," said Marco Stuecheli, a spokesman for the hospital."There can be complicated cases where the mother of a child wants a circumcisionbut the father is opposed to it," he added.The hospital said it performs only one or two such operations a month.Meanwhile, another childrens hospital, located in the city of St. Gallen innortheastern Switzerland, has also decided to reassess its policy on circumcision. 8
  • 9. A senior administrator at the hospital told the local media that a decision on thematter would be reached after the summer vacation.More “wait and see”.BUNDESAMT FÜR VERFASSUNGSSCHUTZ (BfV)What is the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz? In English it’s the Federal Office forthe Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.Unhappily for Germany it has a very checkered career going back to the time of itsorigin in the 1950’s when it was revealed that some of its operatives had worked forthe Gestapo. If you’ve read any of the older John LeCarre novels you know thatintelligence work is “dirty”. How much good it does is another question.A month or so ago I wrote about a scandal when information emerged that a neo-Nazi gang had been killing people for almost 10 years right under the noses of theBfV. Geir Moulson writing in My Way noted, “The case horrified Germany, a nationwhere the Hitler era still casts a long shadow: a small band of neo-Nazis suspectedof killing ethnic Turks and others in a seven-year terror spree, undetected bysecurity forces until a botched bank robbery brought down the group last year.Now, Germanys domestic spy agency faces awkward questions about a possiblecover-up after revelations that an official destroyed files related to the neo-Nazigroup. The case prompted the government to announce this week that the agencyshead for the past 12 years will take early retirement.Before he leaves, a parliamentary committee wants to question Heinz Fromm andthe official responsible for the files on Thursday about whether the material wasdestroyed by mistake or deliberately.The case had already proven deeply embarrassing to the agency, the Federal Officefor the Protection of the Constitution, because of the failure to solve the killings ofeight Turkish small businessmen and a Greek between 2000 and 2006 and apolicewoman in 2007.So we have a long term undetected neo-Nazi gang, 10 or so killings, the destroyingof evidence, a cover up, the resignation of the BfV head, calls for reform – and noreal answers as yet. Where is John LeCarre when we need him?GERMAN STUDENT FRATERNITIESIf the above article (and others like it) doesn’t convince the federal authorities thatneo-Nazism needs more attention than they have been giving it, how about recentinformation regarding German student fraternities. 9
  • 10. According to Klaus Dahmann also writing in DW, “Cherished virtues like brotherhoodand secrecy seem to be a thing of the past, as bitter infighting rages betweenmembers of Germanys student fraternities. Two fraternity brothers are now takingthe matter to court.Its a serious accusation: according to the defendant Christian Joachim Becker,many of Germanys fraternities have been saturated by right-wing extremism in thepast decades. Some of the countrys most significant student fraternities, steeped intradition, have already been completely infiltrated.For this reason, Becker launched the initiative known as Burschenschafter gegenNeonazis (Fraternities Against Neonazis). With its online portal QuoVadisBuxe, theorganization denounces all forms of right-wing extremism.One example is Norbert Weidner, who called the theologian and resistance fighterDietrich Bonhoeffer, executed by the Nazis, a "traitor." Weidner said his sentencingwas "legally justified."Weidner is currently the editor-in-chief of the Burschenschaftlichen Blätter,Germanys fraternity quarterly publication, and is therefore one of the mostinfluential and highest-paid officials in the larger umbrella organization of Germanysfraternities, the Deutschen Burschenschaft.In his youth, Weidner was part of the far-right Viking Youth organization, and thenmoved on to become an official in the Free German Workers Party. After this far-right party was banned in 1995, Weidner disappeared for a short while, only to re-emerge in the Bonn area fraternity Alten Breslauer Burschenschaft der Raczeks zuBonn, the same fraternity to which Becker belongs.Becker, however, does not want their fight to be reduced to a matter of personalanimosity. On the contrary, he thinks the problem of right-wing extremism is onefaced by the wider community of German fraternities."We would like the topic of right-wing extremism at the academic level to bediscussed, and that politicians and the authorities deal with the issue," he said. Thesituation is serious, he adds. "Writings by these academic neo-Nazis give rise to far-right slogans, and this then sparks violence."The charge that fraternities are a catchment basin for right-wing extremists is notnew. The roots of these student organizations date back to the 19th century. At thetime, the fraternities were staunchly regional, with names like Alemannia, Frankoniaor Rhenania. Fraternities at that time advocated unity, freedom and democracy, andlater wrapped themselves in the national colors of black, red and gold. After the firstunification of Germany in 1871, some of these fraternities drifted off into theconservative and reactionary camp. 10
  • 11. Today, fraternities maintain a dusty and jingoistic Germanness in public life:antiquated caps belong as much to their uniforms as ribbons in the associationcolors. Large flags adorn the facades of the mostly generously equipped andcentrally located fraternity houses.Beckers initiative against the neo-Nazis has called for the dissolution of theDeutschen Burschenschaft "due to the tolerance, promotion and financing of right-wing extremists." For the moment, however, observers believe it more likely that theorganization will shrink until the only members left are those already beholden to theright-wing extremists.Is QuoVadisBuxe too late? "The fight is in no way lost," says Becker. "The right-wingextremists may have won in the larger organization, but for us fraternity brotherstheir decision is not conclusive."Do they have something up their sleeves? "At the moment, a new organization isbeing founded," says Becker. "But Im not allowed to say more"…only that "it wontbe long."Frankly, I don’t know enough about the German fraternities to know where theystand politically. However, if there is a neo-Nazi NPD connection the BfV should bedoing something about it. However, in their obviously weakened condition with allsorts of investigations taking place it’s questionable how much they can do atpresent. Whatever the Bundestag or the Chancellor winds up doing about the BfVscandal, there is no doubt that something has to happen to strengthen the forcesthat deal with neo-Nazism. Whether a BfV reform is in order or whether their dutiesshould be turned over to the police agencies is something that has to be decidedafter proper investigation. However, neo-Nazism is not dead. Sadly, it is alive andkicking so whatever is going to happen should happen soon.By the way, feeling the heat, somebody must have said, “Do something about it!” Sothey did. Spiegel On-Line reported, “Police in Germany carried out raids in threeGerman states at the homes of suspected neo-Nazis. Officials believe they mayhave been in the process of creating a new armed, right-wing extremist group.You can read the entire by clicking here.http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-officials-believe-they-have-uncovered-new-far-right-group-a-843430.htmlISRAEL & THE EUWhen it comes to Israel and the EU, especially its High Representative for ForeignAffairs and Security Policy, Lady Catherine Ashton, I have been very critical. I’vewritten many times that she gave every indication of being anti-Israel and has takenevery opportunity to criticize the Jewish State about its policies in the West Bank. 11
  • 12. While Germany remains a staunch friend the overall EU has been cold and critical.However, an Israeli news service, Y-Net News, recently reported, “Britains TheGuardian says relations to be upgraded in more than 60 areas including agriculture,energy and migrationThe EU will offer Israel upgraded trade and diplomatic relations in more than 60areas at a high-level meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, just weeks after Europeanforeign ministers warned that Israeli policies in the West Bank "threaten to make atwo-state solution impossible," The Guardian reported Monday.A diplomatic source shared with the newspapers details of the package of benefitsthat will be offered to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.According to the report, the EU will widen its relationship with Israel on a range ofareas including migration, energy and agriculture. It will remove obstacles impedingIsraels access to European government-controlled markets and enhance Israelsco-operation with nine EU agencies, including Europol and the European SpaceAgencyOne senior EU diplomat criticized the decision citing Israels non-compliance with itsobligations under international law. He noted that not one minister was prepared tooppose Tuesdays agreement for fear of irking Jewish communities. "I was struck by the fact that a whole range of relations was offered to Israel – at therequest of Israel – as if nothing is happening on the ground," the diplomat said."Most ministers are too afraid to speak out in case they are singled out as being toocritical towards Israel, because, in the end, relations with Israel are on the one handrelations with the Jewish community at large and on the other hand with Washington– nobody wants to have fuss with Washington."So (ministers) are fine with making political statements but they refrain from takingconcrete action.”In January 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, the EU and Israelpostponed upgrade talks due to the situation in Gaza.Maybe I shouldn’t have included this article. Frankly, I haven’t seen news of thisupgraded relationship between Israel and the EU anywhere else in the press. And,given the past performance of Lady Ashton and the EU it’s almost too good tobelieve. However, it made The Guardian in the UK so it must have some credence.Perhaps, the EU is coming to terms with Israel’s economic strength. Maybe theysee, as many of us do, that the peace process isn’t going anywhere. “So why cut offour economic nose to spite our face”.I would have been happier if Y-Net News had left out the quote from the unnamed“senior EU diplomat”. What he said reeks of anti-Semitism and I fear that that sort offeeling is not an isolated matter in the EU diplomatic corp. I guess we’ll just have to 12
  • 13. accept the world (and the EU) as it is and hope that the EU – Israel relationship trulyimproves. However, at least for the time being – don’t hold your breath.******************************************************************************************See you next monthDuBow 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. 13