Germany Edition September 27, 2010
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  • 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.net GERMANY EDITION September 27, 2010 Dear Friends: Much buzz here in New York as the UN General Assembly met with both Chancellor Merkel and Pres. Obama in attendance – as well as the pariah (to many people) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In a TV interview he said that “Israel is an "illegitimate, war-waging country." He also accused Pres. Netanyahu of being a “skilled killer” and postulated that the U.S. could have brought about 9/11 to save the Zionist State. . It sounds to me that that he is not much interested in negotiating on the nuclear issue or on peace in general. I think it’s a safe bet to say that he doesn’t have many friends in the American Jewish community. Not everyone can love everyone. On the other hand, Chancellor Merkel received a medal from a Jewish organization (see story below). She is the absolute antithesis of the unshaven one. For her there seems to be much love. And, there is much news, but first a request… REQUEST Before getting to the news I have a request. Do you have e-mail addresses or lists of people who might be interested in German – American Jewish relations? While I have close to 600 on my Germany mailing list, I believe that there are many more who might enjoy getting a free e-newsletter on the subject to enhance their understanding of America’s almost 6 million Jews – and their relationship to Germany. Would you be good enough to send me e-mail addresses and lists? You can do so by e-mailing me by clicking here Many thanks. On to the news… 1
  • 2. IN THIS EDITION THE CHANCELLOR – The German Chancellor is a Jewish favorite. SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL: WHO IN THE U.S.? _ Who in the U.S, supports Israel and to what degree? ISRAEL & THE EU – Not a happy relationship. GERMAN IDENTITY – A view from the New York Times. MR. JEWISH REPUBLICAN – The only Jewish Republican in the U.S. Congress. IRVING UGH! – A Holocaust denier plans tours. Ugh! ANTI-SEMITISM & ANTI-ISRAELISM – Would a change in Israeli policy end anti- Semitism? ATTACK IRAN? NOT US! WHAT DOES IT MEAN? – Americans are against Americans doing it. What’s behind it? THE CHANCELLOR I had the pleasure and honor to be present at the Leo Baeck Institute last week when Chancellor Merkel received the organization’s Leo Baeck Medal. She made a terrific speech which touched all the rights subjects namely Israel – Palestinian peace (She had talked to the two leaders personally), Iran (Tough stance on sanctions) and the continuing fight against anti-Semitism. While her poll numbers in Germany might be low, she is tremendously popular in the American Jewish community. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, as far as issues of importance to Jews and Israel, we couldn’t ask for better. Read about it by clicking here. http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/merkel-honored-for-work-in-german-jewish- reconciliation-1.315127 SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL: WHO IN THE U.S.? I have pointed out many times that the support for Israel in the United States comes not only from the Jewish community. So, who does it come from? According to a recent story in Haaretz, “Support for Israel among Americans has jumped following the resumption of Middle East peace talks, according to poll findings released Tuesday. 2
  • 3. A poll conducted for the Israel Project, a pro-Israel non-profit group based in the United States, showed a strong majority believing that the Israeli government is committed to making peace with the Palestinians. Of 800 people questioned, 58 percent thought the U.S. should support Israel – a jump of 7 percent on a similar poll in July. Seven percent thought the U.S. should support the Palestinians, while six percent said America should back neither side. A majority of respondents (58 percent) also thought Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was committed to making peace, while 40 percent thought the same of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. “Support for Israel among Americans remains strong and steady,” said pollster Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies. The point here, of course, is that the shared values of the two countries, especially their common belief in democracy, keep them close together even though there are some ebbs and flows in the relationship. I think Americans want a peace settlement in the Middle East and see Israel as trying to come to some sort of agreement with the Palestinians. I think the majority of non-Jewish Americans mostly see the situation accurately. ISRAEL & THE EU In many ways Israel sees itself as having a special connection to the European Union, perhaps, a stronger tie than it does to the countries which surround it which are Islamic and have a long history of antagonism to the Jewish State. So, it should not be a shock that the Israelis want closer formal ties to the EU. Haaretz reports, “In April 2009, the EU suspended the upgrade process after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a reassessment of the peace process and Israeli-PA talks were subsequently suspended. The Foreign Ministry has asked senior European Union officials to renew the process of upgrading Israel's relations with the organization, in view of the renewal earlier this month of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In April 2009, the EU suspended the upgrade process after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a reassessment of the peace process and Israeli-PA talks were subsequently suspended. EU officials say the original decision to upgrade relations with Israel was linked to the peace process that began after the November 2007 Annapolis summit, and that the suspension of the process followed the stall in the peace talks. 3
  • 4. Many European foreign ministers have said in the past year that progress in the negotiations would offer an opportunity to restart talks on upgrading Israel's EU status as well. The EU decided unanimously in December 2008 to upgrade relations with Israel followed a long and difficult campaign by Israel. The decision came despite vigorous efforts by the PA and by Egypt to thwart the move. The move includes several areas of cooperation between Israel and the EU and gives Israel senior trading partner status. If the EU is serious about helping the Israel – Palestinian peace process to succeed, giving Israel the added psychological support of an improved status would go a long way in helping them make the difficult concessions that it is obvious they will have to make. The improved status was going to be granted eventually anyway so a proactive EU move would be a major contribution to World peace. Why not do it now? P.S. No sooner had I finished writing the above when a Der Spiegel article entitled “Netanyahu Gets the Cold Shoulder From Brussels” appeared on my computer. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The fine hand of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton is apparent. It’s not exactly clear why she is so anti-Israel. Of course, she’s not the only one. I’m waiting, however, for her to say or do something that has some understanding or is positive about Israel’s position on anything. So far, zero! The EU rejection again raises a question about the independence of German foreign policy. If it is using the EU as a fig leaf, that is terribly sad. Could it do more to help the situation? If you have a different view, please let me know and I’ll be glad to print it. You can e-mail me by clicking here. GERMAN IDENTITY The New York Times, America’s “newspaper of record” recently ran a long article on the development (or re-development) of German identity and national pride. It’s about time! Anybody who was in Berlin at the time the World Cup was being held there had to be struck by the number of German flags and the general positive demeanor of the citizenry about their team and their country. Anyone who knows anything about national psychology knows that it is not healthy when the citizens of a country are not proud of their native land. It’s bad for the rest of us. Yes, Germany did a lot of awful things during the 20th Century but attempts at amends were made in a way no other country has even come close to. For many American Jews (mostly older) no amount of amends can break through the wall of distrust. And, perhaps, a NYT article will only reinforce the negative 4
  • 5. feelings that they harbor. However, some of us who have experience in contemporary Germany, understand that Germany is, as the article notes, the “colossus” of Europe and it behooves us to do all we can to help it take its proper place, grounded in democracy, in world leadership. Click here to read the article. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/11/world/europe/11germany.html?_r=1&hp MR. JEWISH REPUBLICAN Most American Jews support the Democratic Party – but not all. In fact, as I pointed out in a recent DuBow Digest, more Jews are supporting the Republicans these days for a variety of reasons – mostly because they view the Dems as not dealing with the economy adequately and that the Republicans are more sympathetic to Israel. Therefore, one would think that there would be many Republican Jews in the Congress. As it turns out there is only one and that one is Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia. The Forward reports, “Eric Cantor, the lone Jewish Republican in Congress, describes himself as a “minority within a minority.” But now, alongside two fellow congressmen, he is trying to lead a political revolution that will end the days of Republican minority. Known as the Young Guns, Cantor, who is 47, along with Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan and California’s Kevin McCarthy, are seeking to reinvent the Republican Party or, as they explain, to bring it back to its conservative roots. Like the Tea Party movement, the Young Guns are riding a wave of popular dissatisfaction with increased government spending. But while the Tea Partiers wish to bring change from the outside, Cantor and his colleagues are entrenched within the Republican establishment. If the Republicans — with help from the Tea Party outsiders — succeed in taking the House this November, as many expect, Cantor is considered a favorite to be elected to a top leadership position by his party. “I would not be surprised to see him being a candidate for speaker of the House one day; Maybe not this year, but in the coming decade,” said Isaac Wood of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Wood, who specializes in House races, added that Cantor’s strongest qualities are his “conservative bona fides and ideological purity.” A grandson of Jewish immigrants from Europe, Cantor was born and raised in 5
  • 6. Richmond. His grandmother ran a small grocery store and, according to Cantor, “lifted herself into the ranks of the middle class.” His father joined the Republican Party, where he “could be accepted and supported both as an American Jew and as an entrepreneur.” Eric Cantor still lives in Richmond and attends an Orthodox synagogue. Cantor and his “Young Guns” have written a book about their beliefs which is described in The Forward. You can read about it be clicking here. Keep you eye on Mr. Cantor; he is a man on the rise. http://forward.com/articles/131323 IRVING UGH! There are a few things that make me sick to my stomach. Raw onions turn me red, then green, then very pale white. I am absolutely allergic to scallops (Maybe God is sending me a message – they’re not kosher). I eat one and two minutes later I give it back. The third item on my “sick” list is David Irving the British Holocaust denier. Mr. Irving is a so-called Historian. However, according to the ADL, “As his appearances among bigots and neo-Nazis suggest, Irving has become increasingly emphatic and sweeping in his denial of the Holocaust. Although The Leuchter Report denied the existence of gas chambers only at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek, Irving extended Leuchter's claims in a 1990 speech to include Treblinka and “other so-called extermination camps in the East.” In his 1991 edition of Hitler's War, he deleted all references to the extermination of the Jews “because it never occurred.” He was forced, therefore, to explain away thousands of pages of testimony at Nuremberg. Like many other deniers, he claimed, in Nuremberg: The Last Battle (1996), that the proceedings against Nazi war criminals were mere “show-trials” staged by the victorious Americans and British — themselves guilty of crimes against humanity. Using a method to which he resorts when treating evidence that disproves his conclusions, he claimed that Nuremberg prosecutors forged or tampered with incriminating documents used in the trials.” There’s more if you want to read it. Click here. http://www.adl.org/learn/ext_us/irving.asp? LEARN_Cat=Extremism&LEARN_SubCat=Extremism_in_America&xpicked=2&it em=irving : Now, of al things, Mr. Irving is leading tours to Auschwitz. According to Haaretz “The discredited British historian is also scheduled to lead a group of American and British tourists in the former Warsaw ghetto. His tour brochure promises an experience far removed from the "tourist attractions of Auschwitz". He will charge the tour participants $2,650 each. There’s more to the story (Click here to read it) http://www.haaretz.com/jewish- 6
  • 7. world/holocaust-denier-david-irving-to-begin-leading-tours-of-auschwitz-next- week-1.314014 However, I warn you, too much David Irving and you’ll join me in feeling very sick. P.S. After writing the above, it is now reported that the Auschwitz Museum refused Irving and his group admission to the Museum. Click to read http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/09/22/2741015/auschwitz-museum-wont- allow-irving-to-lead-tour ANTI-SEMITISM & ANTI-ISRAELISM A set of questions that most Jews frequently ask themselves goes something like this, “Why is Israel such a pariah? Why does the world seem to perennially hate Israel when there are other countries in the world committing crimes that barely get a mention in the media? If Israel changed policies would the criticism stop?” Harry Edelstein, the person in the Israeli government who is responsible for Jewish communities around the world (Diaspora) recently addressed himself to these questions. In the Jerusalem Post he was quoted as saying, “When I say demonizing Israel has anti-Semitic roots, some people get a tired look on their face and say, ‘Not again, can’t you guys take any criticism?’” Edelstein said. But I will say loud and clear that this delegitimization has anti-Semitic roots. You can’t work in journalism in a mainstream country if you are anti- Semitic, but you certainly can if you are ‘anti-Israel.’ The attacks on many Jewish communities around the world are inspired by an anti-Semitic atmosphere.” Edelstein criticized the theory that changing Israel’s policies would bring more positive media coverage, which was popularized two decades ago by President Shimon Peres and endorsed by Ehud Barak when he was prime minister. “Saying that the problem is just our policies and that changing them would make the world love us is an interesting theory, but it has never worked,” Edelstein said. “It has only made us popular for a couple weeks,” he continued. “Camp David [the summit with Yasser Arafat in 2000] and the unilateral withdrawal [from Gaza in 2005] proved this. Mr. Edelstein also addressed himself to those that call for a boycott of Israeli goods. To those he responded, “In London, when I was asked about boycotting Israel, I said I am in favor, but do it seriously,” he said. “Don’t just stop eating cherry tomatoes – close your laptop computer, call the hospital and ask them to stop treating your relatives with Israeli medicine and medical equipment. It is so 7
  • 8. easy to boycott Israel when you don’t know what you are talking about.” I have to agree with Mr. Edelstein’s main conclusions. Anti-Israelism frequently masks anti-Semitism. Much of the former is senseless not being based on any facts but on rumors, innuendoes and more frequently out and out lies. There is such a thing as legitimate criticism but that, like all criticism, should be backed up by facts. Evenhandedness is another thing frequently missing when criticism of Israel appears in the media. In life there are at times that there are two competing rights. In such a case the honest thing to do is to present both sides without bias. Enough philosophy! I think you understand the point I’m trying to make. ATTACK IRAN? NOT US! WHAT DOES IT MEAN? I’m never to sure about the accuracy of polls or, even if they are accurate at a given moment, how important they are. However, when a poll with several questions on the same general subject gets the same sort of percentage answers, then maybe, I figure, there is a message. The Jerusalem Post recently reported that, “A majority of Americans would oppose joining Israel in a war should it strike Iran, according to a new poll. The Chicago Council on Public Affairs poll, released on Thursday, reported 56 percent of respondents answering, “No, it shouldn’t” to the statement “If Israel were to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, Iran were to retaliate against Israel, and the two were to go to war, the United States should or should not bring its military forces into the war on the side of Israel.” Those responding, “Yes, it should” amounted to 38%. In other findings, a majority – 58% – favored “making a major effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” as a measure to fight terrorism, with 39% opposing. The Chicago Council’s analysis said support had dropped for including American troops in an international peacekeeping force to maintain an Israeli- Palestinian peace agreement; Americans were now split, 49- 49, whereas in the past, majorities had supported such participation. Another finding showed that Americans are split on using US troops to defend Israel if it were attacked – 47% in favor, 50% opposed. There are other results which show strong support for Israel over the Palestinians; however, if you read them all carefully you see that the real message is that people do not want the U.S. in any more wars or even police actions. Iraq and Afghanistan have and are taking their toll. Americans are fed up with U.S. military involvements in actions that do not directly threaten their own 8
  • 9. security. That, of course, is not to say that our political leadership will not gin up political backing for more military adventures but, at the moment, I think it would be very hard. I do not have any American Jewish poll numbers but my guess is that they do not mirror the general population when it comes to defending Israel and attacking Iran if necessary. – but that’s only a guess. ******************************************************************************************** See you in October. DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted at dubowdigest@optonline.net Both the American and Germany editions are also posted on line at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com 9