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American edition august 30, 2010

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American edition august 30, 2010

  1. 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.net AMERICAN EDITION August 30, 2010 Dear Friends: Before anything else let me wish you a wonderful, prosperous and especially healthy New Year. (5771). The summer seems to be over in Germany. The Foreign Minister is in Bosnia, the national discussion about whether the German military should be all volunteer (see below) is getting more heated and, most important, the soccer season is underway. Foreign Minister Westerwelle’s Freed Democratic Party has sunk to an all time low in popularity and that has caused great trouble in overall popularity of the governing coalition. Some people want the F.M. to step out of his party role and focus only on international affairs. Even with all the above, the German economy seems to be doing well. I don’t enough about economics to know if what David Brooks in the NY Times is correct but he has written an interesting column on the subject. You can read it by clicking here. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/27/opinion/27brooks.html?hp Let’s move on to the news… IN THIS EDITION THE CHANCELLOR’S STYLE – It ain’t her pants suits. AN ALL VOLUNTEER ARMY? – Probably! GERMANS & THE HOLOCAUST: NICELY SAID – A Jewish professional’s first visit to Germany THREE CHEERS FOR REGENSBURG’S WAITERS – I’ll give you a tip. They’re an unlikely group of heroes. 1
  2. 2. BACK INTO THE COLD – Like a fish to water, an alleged spy goes back to where he’s most comfortable. NEO-NAZIS, THE INTERNET & THE KIDS - A fertile vehicle for spreading hate. THE (ACTUAL) NUREMBERG LAWS – How did the two American copies wind up in….(Read the story) THE CHANCELLOR’S STYLE A discussion of Chancellor Merkel’s style has nothing to do with the fact that she frequently wears pant suits. A recent Spiegel Online article noted, “On vacation in the Dolomites, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had an epiphany: To get her government back on track, she has decided to develop a more resolute style of leadership. But with controversial issues looming, it may prove hard to abandon her habitual hesitancy. Chancellor Angela Merkel prefers watching and waiting, she has frequently been accused of dilly-dallying, of equivocating. Prior to becoming Germany's president, Christian Wulff said, in defense of Merkel's leadership style, "a good shepherd leads the herd from behind." That only works, however, if the herd shows a proclivity for sticking together. Ten months into Merkel's second term, however, her coalition government -- made up of her conservatives paired with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) -- has been anything but united. From her vantage point at the back of the herd, Merkel has watched as her government bickered and fought its way through the winter and the spring with public support dropping all the while. Now, following a bit of hiking in the Dolomites, she has resolved to change her leadership style, people close to the chancellor have told SPIEGEL. ”…if Merkel plans to make her new resolution a reality, she will have some work to do. The temptation to slide back into her habit of waiting for the dust to settle before making a decision might be difficult to resist.” 2
  3. 3. The Spiegel Online article which you can read in its entirety by clicking here http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,712331,00.html spells out all the troubles the Chancellor has with her coalition partners and the issues that confront her. I’m no judge of Madame Merkel’s leadership abilities. However, when trying to size up someone I look at the record. Here is a woman from the former East Germany who has reached the political top spot in her country in a span of only about 12 years after the Wall fell. Maybe Spiegel Online is right about “style” but the facts are the facts and what she’s done and how far she’s gone speak a lot louder than some perceived negative view of her style. ‘Nuff said! AN ALL VOLUNTEER ARMY? German Defense Minister Guttenberg favors a plan to reform the army by halving the number of ground troops and battle tanks, SPIEGEL has learned. His ministry is due to present a reform plan in autumn in a bid to cut costs and boost the army's effectiveness. Germany's ground forces would be almost halved under a reform plan favored by Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, SPIEGEL has learned. An internal paper suggests cutting the army from 95,000 soldiers to 54,558. The number of battle tanks would also be reduced by almost half. The strength of the infantry would remain almost unchanged at around 10,000 troops. Critics say the reform plan won't improve the situation of German infantry soldiers on foreign missions, who are being worn down by the high frequency of missions and insufficient rest and recuperation time. Germany is currently the third-biggest international troop provider in Afghanistan with more than 4,000 soldiers stationed there. Why should we, or anybody else, worry about Germany going to an all volunteer, smaller army? Aren’t the days of German militarism over? Even if not, how much could any army of 54,558 do to destabilize or harm anyone? The answer to the first question has more to do with socio-political matters than military ones. There is strong feeling in some elements of the society that see “… conscription as a valuable tool to anchor the army in society.” The draft “mixes the bodies” of its young people and is a help in integrating them into the larger society. In addition, it gives the society a greater stake in the future of the military. As far as “German militarism” is concerned, I think that kind of threat is at a very (very!) low level. The various leaders I have spoken to are enormously pleased to be in NATO and to be shoulder to shoulder with soldiers from the U.S.and other Western countries. Those that want a smaller, all volunteer service want their 3
  4. 4. army to be more effective, efficient and professional – professional in the best sense of the term. So, I’m putting my worry beads away. Finally, as far as many politicians are concerned, a smaller army would much reduce costs. No small matter. So, how will it come out? My advice? Follow the money! GERMANS & THE HOLOCAUST: NICELY SAID Brian Siegal is director of American Jewish Committee (AJC) Greater Miami and Broward County Regional Office. He is one of those young guys who has chosen a career in Jewish communal service and luckily (for AJC and Brian himself) found his way into a perfect job for himself. I consider him one of the best field directors AJC has on its staff. Until recently Brian, who has run programs on the Holocaust, had never visited Germany. It’s a trip that every Jewish professional should make in order to have a complete vision of the totality of modern Jewish history. A couple of months ago the German Consul General in Miami invited Brian to be a member of a group going on a “familiarity trip”, something the German government and a number of German agencies do for people they think are important in German – American relations and especially American Jewish – German relations. Upon his return Brian wrote a piece for the AJC website. The most important part has to do with Germans and the Holocaust. In part, Brian wrote, “Clearly, constant vigilance will be required now more than ever, as the last generation of survivors passes on and first-hand accounts grow fewer, to preserve the Holocaust's memory. Present-day Germany provides one of the best models on how to do this. Such was my impression after spending a week in Berlin as the guest of the German Foreign Ministry. The German government, individual foundations and a number of religious institutions all play a part in preserving the memory of the victims who lie hidden behind the anonymous numbers and ensuring that the lessons of the Holocaust are learned for the future. Rather than denying or disavowing their past, Germans for the most part seem to confront it while looking ahead toward a more promising future. This was most apparent to me when I visited an elementary school in Berlin. The students were tasked with a project: Identify someone from their neighborhood who was killed in the Holocaust and find at least one thing in common with that person. Each student then created a brick to commemorate him/her, along with a 4
  5. 5. brief description about who they were. The bricks are then joined together to form a ``wall of remembrance.'' It is through exercises like this done in schools around the country that memory is passed on to the next generation. But beyond physical reminders and remembrances, Germany is also heeding lessons of the Holocaust by combating intolerance, group hatred and Holocaust denial. It is one of over 80 countries that participate on the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, which recently signed an agreement to promote the remembrance of the Holocaust through education, research and upkeep of memorial sites. We must confront the denial and misuse of the Holocaust. What I saw in Germany provides examples of why and how this should be done. Germany's progress in confronting the past, fighting anti-Semitism, and speaking out against Holocaust denial gives hope that even though this work is difficult, it can be done. Over the years I have been asked many times about what Germany is doing about the Holocaust and what sort of Holocaust education is being taught in the German schools. I, like Brian, have experienced positive attempts to do “the right thing”. Could it be better? Of course! Could there be more? Of course! However, to be honest I’m more worried about American schools than I am about the ones in Germany. What do our own schools do point out the evils of Nazism? Do our own kids, especially the ones who are not Jewish, know anything about the horrors of 1933-1945? Frankly, I don’t like to ask the question as I’m afraid I know the answer. To read the entirety of Brian’s article click here. http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx? c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=6154567&ct=8580993&notoc=1 THREE CHEERS FOR REGENSBURG’S WAITERS According to The Local, “Dozens of restaurants and bars in the Bavarian city of Regensburg have joined forces to begin a new initiative to refuse service to neo- Nazis after a violent right-wing attack on one of their own, the group said this week. Effective immediately, 85 hospitality staff from establishments in the picturesque medieval city’s centre will no longer serve food or alcohol to right-wing extremists, the group told daily Donau Post on Tuesday. “Nazis and other racists have no place in our establishments,” the group told the paper, adding that Regensburg is an enlightened city where people of different backgrounds live peacefully. 5
  6. 6. The initiative, called Keine Bedienung für Nazis, or “No service for Nazis,” began in support of a young barkeep attacked by a gang of neo-Nazis when he tried to protect a dark-skinned woman and her child from their insults a few weeks ago, according to the Mittelbayerische Zeitung. The 85 servers who have signed on to the initiative are hopefully just the beginning of a wider movement, the group said, adding that they hope to see their stickers in the windows of every establishment in town someday. Maybe it will spread throughout the rest of Germany. I’d like to see the same thing happen in parts of Idaho and the Northwest where the America’s neo-Nazis hang out. BACK INTO THE COLD You will remember the alleged Israeli spy (Mossad agent) Uri Brodsky who was allegedly (everything is “alleged”) part of the Israeli “hit” team in Dubai that assassinated Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas official involved in Iranian arms smuggling. Brodsky was arrested in Poland on a German warrant alleging that he obtained or passed along a forged passport. When we last left Brodsky the Polish authorities were about to deport him to Germany where, unless I am very wrong, the Germans wanted to receive this hot potato about as much as an overdose of weak beer or overly mild currywurst. Brodsky was, indeed, deported and arrived rather secretly in Germany where he appeared before a German judge in a closed hearing. Bail was set and he was immediately released. A small hue and cry emerged that the national government had intervened on Brodsky’s behalf. This was immediately denied. According to Haaretz, “A foreign office spokesman said the decision to release Uri Brodsky on bail was purely judicial .”That is why the federal government had no influence on the decision and is not commenting on it either," the spokesman said. He might have added, “If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in buying”. It is rumored that we have seen the last of Mr. Brodsky (at least under that name).He will probably not appear at whatever sort of trial there will be and the bail money will take care of the fine that will be assessed. Allegedly that’s the end of the story. Mr. Brodsky (or whoever he is) can now, like Alec Leamas, the John LeCarre character in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, can go back into the cold. I hope he suffers a better fate than Mr. Leamas. NEO-NAZIS, THE INTERNET & THE KIDS According to The Local.de “German right-wing extremists are increasingly 6
  7. 7. targeting children online, luring minors to websites by disguising their hate-filled ideology. German youth protection authorities Jugendschutz presented a report this week detailing the burgeoning neo-Nazi web offerings, including the use of social networks and video platforms. The online offensive is part of the strategy right-wing extremists are using to disguise their propaganda and lure younger recruits, according to Jugendschutz authorities. “This example showcases how right-wing extremists are abusing Web 2.0,” said Stefan Glaser from jugendschutz.net. “Their activities are increasingly found there because they can reach more young people.” Extremists are also disseminating materials meant to look harmless, such as a CD of children’s songs and lullabies for tots between the ages of three to eight purportedly sponsored by Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, the songs actually contain anti-Semitic lyrics and encourage racist violence and Holocaust denial, daily Die Welt reported on Wednesday. According to research done in partnership with the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung), Glaser said that since 2007, the amount of neo-Nazi activity found on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter has exploded. Recently state intelligence experts have warned that the neo-Nazi NPD party had increased their focus on online German social networks such as SchülerVZ, StudiVZ and beyond. Experts say the danger is that many young people are unable to recognise propaganda and attempts at indoctrination from these groups at first glance. Instead of blatant symbols such as swastikas, many are using graffiti and other less-recognisable imagery from youth culture. The abuse is rampant, and Jugendschutz.net counts an additional 10,000 active users of neo-Nazi blogs and download portals per day, Glaser said. The number of these radical internet sites has reached an all-time high, from 1,635 in 2007 to 1,870 now. “The internet is the propaganda medium of choice for right-wing extremists to spread hateful content in order to net young people to talk with,” he told the paper. Why should we be surprised? The Internet is an “open” form of communication and the neo-Nazis are as smart as anyone else in utilizing it. The worrisome 7
  8. 8. things are the target audience and the attempt to hide their propaganda “using graffiti and other less-recognisable imagery from youth culture”. There is a positive side however. Both Jugendschutz and the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, the federal agency dealing with “political education”, are on top of the problem and airing it in public. In the final analysis the responsibility for countering this stuff – or denying it to children – rests with the individual families. I hope they’re aware and understand the dangers and risks that neo-Nazi propaganda has for them and their children. THE (ACTUAL) NUREMBERG LAWS In 1935 Hitler and other Nazi officials signed four copies of the “Laws for the Safeguard of German Blood and German Honor,” one of three documents collectively known as the Nuremberg Laws. After the War two copies wound up in the United States. Surely they were in Washington or some Jewish archive in New York. Wrong! They were in Los Angeles. If you’re young and not familiar with the Nuremberg laws – you should be. According to Wikipedia, “After Hitler came to power in 1933, there was a rapid growth in German legislation directed at Jews, however the existence of many secular and atheistic Germans of Jewish origin and the adherence of the Nazis to racial definitions created a need for a clear legal method of defining who was Jewish. The Nuremberg Laws (German: Nürnberger Gesetze) of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany which were introduced at the annual Nuremberg rally. The laws classified people with four German grandparents as "German or kindred blood", while people were classified as Jews if they descended from three or four Jewish grandparents. A person with one or two Jewish grandparents was a Mischling, a crossbreed, of "mixed blood” The Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews of German citizenship and prohibited marriage between Jews and other Germans. The existence of laws identifying who was Jewish made it easier for the Nazis to introduce legislation restricting Jewish rights, the laws themselves included a ban on sexual intercourse between (people defined as) "Jews" and (non-Jewish) Germans, and preventing "Jews" from participating in German civic life. From the laws grew the Holocaust and the murder of 6 million Jews. After World War II Gen. George Patton brought the two copies of the laws that somehow wound up in his hands to Los Angeles. Instead of depositing them (as he should have done) in the National Achieves, he gave them to the Huntington Library in L.A. Now, 65 years later, after being on loan to the Skirball Museum since 1999, they are being given to the National Archives where they belong. Why they originally came to L.A. and what is behind the decision to locate them in Washington, D.C. is an interesting story. You can read it by clicking here. 8
  9. 9. http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary_02.aspx? id=7900&linkidentifier=id&itemid=7900 See you again in mid-September. ******************************************************************************************** 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

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