Du bow diges american edition august 15, 2012

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Du bow diges american edition august 15, 2012

  1. 1. AME RICAN EDITIONAugust 15, 2012Dear Friends:The middle of August is probably a lousy time to publish a newsletter on a “heavy”subject such as American Jewish – German relations. I would imagine that most ofyou are enjoying the cool ocean breezes at the beach or waiting for your tee time atthe local golf course. Perhaps you’re hidden away catching up on the novels youdidn’t have time to read during the busier times of the year.However, life goes on. In Germany the Chancellor is back from her vacation and theschool year is beginning in parts of the Federal Republic. Significant problems andissues haven’t gone away so whether my readership drops off or not I figured Ishould uphold my part of the bargain and provide you with an updated report.Therefore, if you can tear yourself away from the presidential polls and the brilliantattacks your candidate is making on his unworthy opponent, let’s get on with thenews…IN THIS EDITIONGERMAN POLITICS – AT THE MOMENT – A thorough analysis.UNESCO HERITAGE SITES – Jewish sites this time. You can see them.A NOT SO CLEVER RUSE – When a friend may not be a friend.FROM THE OTHER DIRECTION – The right this time.A FOILED MARCH – Hurrah for Bad Nenndorf!SECURITY SHUFFLE – Heads roll!CIRCUMCISION: THE BATTLE CONTINUES – Philosophy and the U.S. Congressenter the fray.GERMAN POLITICS – AT THE MOMENTMy late (and very much missed) brother, Myron DuBow, frequently said to me, “Youcan’t beat a man at his own game”. He explained, “If you come up against aprofessional card shark, don’t try to outplay him at gin rummy”. I would take it a stepfurther. If you tried to match wits with Albert Einstein (if he was still alive) on matters 1
  2. 2. concerning the theory of relativity you’d probably lose.The same goes for political analysis. If you try to out analyze a highly rated geo-political analyzing service such as STRATFOR, in all likelihood they’ll do a better jobthan you can – no matter how much of a genius you think you are.So, when a friend in Minneapolis forwarded a STRATFOR analysis of the currentpolitical situation in Germany to me, I read it, understood I couldn’t do better so I’mgoing to pick out some of the important points and then provide you with a link soyou can read the report in its entirety. STRATFOR outshines DuBow.Here goes…Despite criticism from abroad, German Chancellor Angela Merkel enjoys highapproval rates domestically. Merkels government has benefited from the fact thatGermanys economy has been largely unaffected by the European crisis.But until parliamentary elections in late 2013, Merkel has two main challenges. First,she must ensure that the European crisis does not spin out of control. This meansBerlin will support further aid to struggling eurozone countries while pushing formore centralized fiscal control in Brussels. Pressure from France, Spain and Italy totake more drastic measures will increase, and traditional allies like the Netherlandsand Finland will show some resistance to Merkels strategy, which calls for furtherdelegation of power to Brussels.Second, Merkel must maintain her popular and political support domestically. ForMerkel, keeping her own party and coalition in check will be as challenging asfighting the opposition, especially if Germanys economy weakens.Apart from handling the European crisis, Merkel will be increasingly concerned withdomestic elections. The regional elections in the states of Lower Saxony in January2013 and Bavaria in September 2013 will test Merkels current coalition.So far the opposition -- mainly the Social Democratic Party -- has not found a way tochallenge Merkels Europe policy and is struggling to find a challenger to Merkelsposition as chancellor. But in recent regional elections the Social Democratic Partyhas done well, and should the German economy slow, the party likely will blame iton Merkels indecisiveness in dealing with the crisis.A further weakening of Merkels coalition partners, the Free Democratic Party andthe Bavarian Christian Social Union, would aid the opposition. Polls indicate that theliberal Free Democrats would not even make it into Parliament, and the Bavarianparty will be challenged in regional elections just prior to national elections.That pretty much says it all. To read it in full click here.http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/? 2
  3. 3. u=74786417f9554984d314d06bd&id=1cebc4d400&e=334e680730BTW, Stratfor is a “pay” service. To connect to them click on www.stratfor.comWith Chancellor’s summer vacation over, Spiegel On-Line offered their two Pfennig’sworth and published a piece by Björn Hengst entitled “Merkel’s Five BiggestProblems”. It’s very comprehensive. You should read it. Click here to do so.http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/biggest-problems-for-angela-merkel-as-she-returns-from-summer-vacation-a-849729.htmlUNESCO HERITAGE SITESSpiegel On-Line reports, “Germany has 37 sites currently under UNESCO protectionand another 10 waiting for possible inclusion. None of them come from the countrysrich Jewish history, though. Four new possible nominations may soon change this.I think it’s peculiar that considering the rich German Jewish history none of theJewish sites have yet been previously accepted for UNESCO protection. Maybe it’san oversight – hopefully!In any case, Spiegel On-Line goes on noting, “Four sites important to the history ofGerman Jewry are among the over two dozen submissions. And while the list islargely just an arbitrary survey of which historical sites German states value most,the presence of the Jewish sites is something of an anomaly. After all, of the 37sites in Germany that are already UNESCO-protected, and the 10 additionallocations that the country has yet to formally propose, not a single one of them islinked to the countrys pre-World War II Jewish history."It is certainly interesting that four entrants representing Jewish history have beenhanded in," Cilly Kugelmann, program director for the Jewish Museum in Berlin, toldSPIEGEL ONLINE. "It could be that the time is indeed coming when Nazi history isno longer in the foreground, but that there is new attention being paid to the richJewish history that existed in Germany before that time."Among the sites in question is the Weissensee Cemetery in Berlin, the largest intactJewish cemetery in Europe, encompassing 100 acres and 115,000 graves.Hamburg submitted a cemetery of its own, the Jewish Cemetery Altona, which isunique both for its age -- it was founded in 1611 -- and for the fact that it is the oldestPortuguese Jewish cemetery in Europe. In includes graves of both Sephardic Jewsfrom Portugal and Ashkenazi Jews from Germany and Eastern Europe.The city of Erfurt, in the eastern German state of Thuringia, proposed the inclusionof its Old Synagogue. The structure was only rediscovered in the old city of Erfurt inthe 1990s and, with construction having begun in 1094, it is thought to be the oldestintact synagogue in Central Europe. 3
  4. 4. Finally, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate put forward the so-called ShUM cities, thecenter of German Jewish life in medieval times. The name refers to Mainz, Speyerand Worms; the designationi ShUM is a conflation of the first letters of the citiesnames in Hebrew.Kugelmann says that the high number of visitors to the Jewish Museum in Berlinwould seem to indicate significant interest in Germanys Jewish history that goesbeyond the countrys perpetration of the Holocaust, which saw the destruction of 6million Jews in Europe. The museum, after all, places much of its focus on pre-Holocaust Jewish life in the country. "Maybe the virtual attention that has focused onmuseums is now steering toward a real interest in actual history and historical sites,"she said.It is, of course, far from certain that any of the Jewish sites that have been proposedwill make it onto the UNESCO list. The somewhat cumbersomely named StandingConference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in theFederal Republic of Germany will now appoint an independent group to evaluate theproposals. Only those that make the cut will then be added to the list of sites thatGermany intends to submit at future UNESCO meetings.Competition will be fierce. The castles of Bavarias famous King Ludwig II (thinkNeuschwanstein) were submitted, as was the spa town of Baden Baden, famous forbeing a destination resort for much of the Continents royalty and elite in the 19thcentury.One other submission has raised eyebrows, though. Bavaria entered the site of theNuremburg Trials -- where the postwar proceedings against senior Nazi leaders tookplace -- as the birthplace of international criminal law. "It is certainly unique that acountry would confront its own past in such a way," says Kugelmann, "and proposesuch a site to be internationally recognized as part of its national history."The Spiegel On-line article contains some absolutely beautiful pictures of theproposed sites. You will really be missing something if you don’t click on thefollowing link. CLICK HERE http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/germany-rediscovers-its-jewish-history-fotostrecke-85592.htmlA NOT SO CLEVER RUSEWhat better way is there to attack Israel than by joining a pro-Israel organization,stating your love for the Jewish State and then starting to criticize Israel using yourmembership to prove to the world that you really are a friend when, indeed, you arenot? A wily subterfuge? Not when it’s so obvious even if you later deny it.Budo Ramelow, A Left Party (Die Linke) politician who is a member of the German-Israel Friendship Society (DIG) recently wrote on his Facebook site that the Swiss 4
  5. 5. Migros supermarket chain’s labeling of Israeli products from the West Bank is a“legitimate measure.”Benjamin Weinthal reporting in The Jerusalem Post wrote, “The general secretary ofGermany’s Central Council of Jews, Stephan J. Kramer, called Monday on theGerman-Israel Friendship Society (DIG) to take concrete action against the growinganti-Israel boycott activity within its ranks.“Anyone who sees a boycott of Israeli goods as a legitimate answer to something orother has understood nothing, and should look in the mirror and leave DIG,” Kramerwrote in an email to The Jerusalem Post.“I think supporting a call for a boycott of a democratic country, which Israel is, and atthe same time being a member of DIG is an insoluble contradiction and a burden onDIG and its members.[Deputy in the state government of Thuringia Bodo Ramelowis part of a long tradition of anti-Israel leftists and we can no longer whitewash this.”Ramelow has been accused in Germany of using his DIG membership todelegitimize Israel and pretend that he is a friend of Israel. In an email to the Post onTuesday, he wrote, “I have neither called for a boycott of Israeli goods” nor “signedthe Pax Christi call” to boycott Israel merchandise. The German branch of the left-wing Catholic peace organization Pax Christi has mounted an aggressive campaignto boycott Israeli products, including setting up stands in pedestrian zones toencourage people to not buy Israeli goods.When asked repeatedly by the Post to clarify his Migros statements, Ramelow wrotethat “the Migros firm decided independently to demand from producers adesignation of origin when they want to sell their products to Migros. I mentionedthis and did not know that the mentioning of facts should be banned.”In response, Kramer, told the Post that Ramelow’s formulation regarding termingMigro’s action as a “legitimate measure” is clearly a call to boycott Israeli products.Ramelow added that when he visited Ramallah,”I saw that enough products werelabeled ‘Palestine’ and I consider that a permissible origin designation.” He askedwhat is the problem with Migros labeling products from its suppliers.According to critics of Migros, including Swiss Jewish groups, Migros has singledout Israel for unique treatment in a pejorative sense.It is not a surprise that a leading member of the Left Party can be counted as onewho seems to be anti-Israel. To a large degree the party is made up of formermembers of East Germany’s communist party and the extreme left wing of the WestGerman political spectrum. Not many friends of Israel there. The DIG will have to bea little more careful about who they welcome in as members and how those peopleuse their membership affiliation. Not everybody in Germany (or in the U.S. for that 5
  6. 6. matter) is so tuned in that this type ruse can easily be spotted. It’s a good thing thatthe Jewish organizations are on top of it to publicly point it out.FROM THE OTHER DIRECTIONIn the story above I pointed to a call for a boycott of Israel from the extreme left. Inanother Benjamin Weinthal piece in The Jerusalem Post he reports on the same sortof an attack, this time from the extreme right. He notes, “The local branch of theneo-Nazi party (NPD) expressed solidarity for the campaign calling for a boycott ofIsraeli products that is supported by the German city of Jena’s Social DemocraticMayor Albrecht Schröter and the left-wing NGO Pax Christi.The NPD branch in the state of Thuringia, where Jena is located, quickly issuedaccolades on Monday to Schröter on its website. The neo-Nazis wrote that he is“courageous” for his anti-Israel conduct and noted “as nationalists who have to dealevery day with these Jewish/left-liberal defamation tactics, we think of Goethe’ssorcerer’s apprentice, who couldn’t get rid of the spirits he called.”Thuringia and the city of Jena are hotbeds of neo-Nazi activity. Kevin Zdiara, thedeputy chairman of the German-Israel friendship society (DIG) in Thuringia’s capitalErfurt, told the Post that in Jena “there is a Nazi problem,” that the terrorists of thenational socialist underground came from Jena and that Nazis continue to meet atthe property of the “Brown House,” a local center for the far-right.There is much more to the story which you can read about by clicking here.http://www.jpost.com/international/article.aspx?id=272813I think the most important point is that attacks on Israel, especially those calling forboycotts, come from both the extreme left and the right. Extremism, when it focuseson Israel, comes from both ends of the political spectrum. It leads one to believe thatwhere the Jewish State is concerned the hate line is not linear but curved at bothends with a meeting in the middle. The right and the left both consider Israel as alegitimate target no matter how much they hate each other. My first inclination is tosay it’s a sad state of affairs. My second is to say it’s downright upsetting.A FOILED MARCHOn the subject of things that fit the term “sad state of affairs”, the fact that there arestill neo-Nazi marches and rallies in Germany has to be somewhere near the top ofthe list. However, as I have pointed out many times, in a democracy people whohave a point of view, no matter how demented, are entitled to publicly rally toexpress themselves. 6
  7. 7. But so are those that are in opposition.The Local.de reported, “Bad Nenndorf in Lower Saxony has been the focus of neo-Nazi marches every year since 2006, because it was where the British army set upan interrogation centre for Nazis after the war.Around 700 people from the area gathered to show their opposition to the march,while more than 200 left-wing activists chained themselves to the station platform,delaying the arrival of the neo-Nazis’ train by more than an hour.The bus drivers were less than cooperative, forcing many of the neo-Nazis to walkinto town. Their rally was several hours late and accompanied by loud protestsnearby.Sebastian Edathy of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) said, "We are neither readyto hand over our streets and our squares, nor the hearts and minds of the cominggeneration, to these enemies of humanity."He said far-right extremism was a reality in Germany but should never be acceptedas normal.At least 2,000 police officers were in the town, while a surveillance drone flew overthe more than 450 neo-Nazis. Last year around 580 showed up while in 2010 thenumber was more than 1,000.The neo-Nazis had planned to go to Hannover, around 35 kilometres away, aftertheir march in Bad Nenndorf – but cancelled this themselves, a police spokeswomansaid. They are now planning a torch-lit march through Hannover at a later date.Maybe I shouldn’t be so downhearted. It does seem that every time the neo-Nazis inGermany gather themselves to have a rally a much greater number of local citizensraise themselves up to oppose it. I do think that most Germans have internalizeddemocracy and understand fully what Nazism did to their country. The history andlegacy is very powerful. People do learn and do change. Bravo to the counter-demonstrators and the bus drivers!SECURITY SHUFFLEHurrah for the people in Bad Nenndorf! However, no matter how great citizenreaction to the neo-Nazis is, it’s not enough. In the last couple of issues I reported ona neo-Nazi murder gang and the fact that it has operated for 10 years without thesecurity service knowing about it. So, a major reshuffle in their leadership was calledfor. It happened and happened quickly!Germanys Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich appointed new heads of the 7
  8. 8. countrys domestic intelligence agency and the Federal Police Force. DW reported,“The 10 murders carried out by the neo-Nazi NSU have shown how the risks of thefar right were widely underestimated. In fact, the diversity of the far right makes it areal challenge for the security services.The complete failure of the security forces has shocked Germans.The latest Verfassungsschutz [Ed. Note: The Federal Office for the Protection of theConstitution] report …in mid-July, assesses the development of far-right extremismin the light of the NSU murders. The agency, which is now the object of heavycriticism, describes over 80 pages a development that began in the 1990s.According to the report, "During this time, far-right extremism has become younger,more active, and more militant."Only a year ago, the agency said it had not noticed any terrorist structures in the far-right scene. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich denies the charge that this meansthat the agency was "blind to the far-right." But even he has spoken of "failure" and"lost trust." He says reform is unavoidable.Though they have long recognized the diversity of the far-right scene, the expertshave clearly underestimated the danger it represents. Friedrich now warns ofpossible neo-Nazi copycat killings, and he underlines that security forces are nowcooperating internationally to better confront dangers.Statistically, the violent potential of far-right extremists has barely changed. Thenumber of injuries as a result of far-right violence reported to the police in 2011 was640 - just two more than in the year before. The number of attempted murders wasfive - one fewer than in 2010. By far the largest number of far-right related crimes -16,000, or 70 percent - was propaganda-related, such as displaying the swastikasymbol.The Verfassungsschutz estimates that there are around 22,500 neo-Nazis inGermany, around 10 percent fewer than in 2011. But the level of organization is verydifferent. The least organized is the third that the agency describes as "sub culturallyinfluenced." This is a milieu that defines itself, as much as anything, throughextremist music in which Jews, foreigners and leftists are vilified. These regionalgroups have recently begun to lose supporters - the agency reports numbers downfrom 8,300 to 7,600.At public events, the more loosely-organized far-right extremists come into contactwith the National Democratic Party (NPD), Germanys major far-right political party.A popular joint activity is the staging of marches on the anniversaries of thebombings of German cities during World War Two. These events often erupt intoviolent confrontations between neo-Nazis and anti-Nazi demonstrators. 8
  9. 9. The NPD has distanced itself from the NSU murders. Party chairman Holger Apfelhas described the crimes as "aberrations" that left him "stunned." The NPDs 6,300members make no secret of their xenophobic, anti-Semitic positions, but theygenerally air their views ambiguously, so as to avoid prosecution. For instance, thepartys election campaign in the Berlin state election went under the slogan "step onthe gas," which some took as a reference to the gassing of Jews during the ThirdReich. The poster even hung outside the Jewish Museum in the German capital.There’s more but I think you get the idea. The neo-Nazi scene in Germany needs agreater deal of attention than it has gotten in the last little while. Hopefully, the newappointees to these high domestic intelligence posts will move the situation forward.Minister Friedrich seems intent on doing that.However, the Minister will have to keep an eye on police willingness to deal with theneo-Nazis. DW reported, “A foundation has questioned the resolve of German policewhen it comes to fighting crimes committed by neo-Nazi and other far-right groups.Authorities willingly turn a blind eye to extremist violence, it claims.German authorities regularly trivialize incidents of far-right violence and play downthe danger of right-wing extremism, according to a study (14.08.2012) by theAmadeu Antonio Foundation, a victim protection group. The group went on to saythat German security forces "systematically disregard" right-wing violence.Victims are left high and dry in a nearly systematic way by public offices," saidMarion Kraske, the reports author. She added that far-right violence was sometimesignored by authorities and at other times not recognized because officials wereunaware of the problem it poses.”We’ll keep an eye on the situation. Stay tuned. CIRCUMCISION: THE BATTLE CONTINUES You will recall that in the last edition I reported on the fact that a District Court in Cologne had declared male circumcision illegal. The ruling caused a great deal of public discussion and anger – plus a troubling amount of support. The Bundestag is to take up the matter when it returns from summer vacation. The public discourse has gone far beyond just the matter of circumcision itself. A national debate has ensued over not only the importance of religious values. Questions about “What sort of a nation are we?” followed closely behind. A well known journalist on cultural matters, Matthias Matussek, wrote an important article in Spiegel On-Line entitled, “Why Circumcision Is Not a Crime” which delves deeply into the issue of Germany’s values. He notes, … 9
  10. 10. A German courts outlawing of the circumcision of boys -- and the vociferous support it has received in the self-proclaimed enlightened media -- confirms a tendency that has seen religion-bashing and intolerance become the new cool. Respect, though, rather than supposed "common sense," is the true basis for social progress.By now, its an embarrassment to almost everyone in Germany that, in the groundsfor one of its decisions, a regional court in Cologne almost off-handedly declaredcircumcision -- a religious tradition dating back thousands of years -- to be illegal.But the incident confirms a tendency toward rampant anti-religious prejudice andgrowing intolerance toward believers.To be sure, the German government is rushing to re-establish peace under the lawwith new legislation, hoping to prevent Germany from becoming what ChancellorAngela Merkel called "a laughingstock." But elsewhere in the world, people areshaking their heads over the fact that its the Germans, once again, who -- as RabbiPinchas Goldschidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said -- aretrying to make it impossible for Jews to remain in their country.The sharpness of the attacks is only surpassed by the absurdity of the justifications.A procedure that is hardly more painful than a vaccination -- something for whichparents also dont consult their child in advance -- is now being expanded andrevamped to form a strategy of cultural anthropology.Indeed, many prejudices tend to have some element of supposedly sound commonsense. The Muslim author Navid Kermani detects a vulgar rationalism in arguments[that have] lost the sense of the sacred (and 85 percent of the worlds population isreligious in one way or another).But this sacred zone actually exists in every human being. It is the same zone inwhich wonder and love and miracles exist, as do art and the spirit -- in other words,everything that goes beyond the biological functions of human beings. Its anintimate and even the most vulnerable area, and its certainly one that everyonewould like to see protected and respected.But that is precisely what aggravates a secularized environment, one that respondswith growing and more aggressive intolerance to the things that are sacred topeople. A commentator with the Berliner Kurier newspaper even sees the Jewishcommandment of circumcision as "an absurd and perverse concept of God, one thatarose in the theology of the Old Testament to ensure the ethnic uniformity of theJews." Did Edith Stein, the Jewish girl who became a philosopher and Catholic nunbefore dying in a gas chamber at Auschwitz for her faith, know this?What if we were to say… Have a little respect for people with religious beliefs andbe tolerant? 10
  11. 11. We have eliminated almost all taboos in our society, and we tout this as a sign ofgreat progress. But we need taboos. Child pornography is one of them, and denyingthe Holocaust is another. Both are punishable offences. Since Freud, we haveknown how much humor draws on the violation of taboos. Jewish humor would beinconceivable without the sly or hilarious settling of accounts with the Almighty.Oddly enough, though, it is not blasphemous and never derisive.What if we rejected blasphemy -- that is, the foolish disparagement of God and faith-- out of inner conviction and respect for others?This would be a genuine step forward.I fear I butchered Matthias Matussek’s article. You really have to read the entireessay in order to fully understand his point of view and why he considers thecriticism of circumcision a black mark against Germany’s current secular culture.You can access it by clicking here.http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/commentary-on-why-circumcision-should-not-be-a-crime-in-germany-a-846755.htmlBTW, the Cologne court decision has had international repercussions. Haaretzreported, “A U.S. bipartisan group of 20 Congressmen sent a letter to the Germangovernment expressing “deep concern” over a recent German court decision toeffectively ban circumcision on young boys.Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.),authored the letter, which was addressed to Peter Ammon, the German ambassadorto the United States.The letter by the congressmen called the June 26 court decision “an affront toreligious freedom…. Circumcision, it wrote in a press release, is “a fundamentalritual and sacred rite of passage for both the Jewish and Muslim communities.Throughout history, the prohibition of Brit Milah has been tantamount to rejection ofthe Jewish community’s existence.”The letter to the ambassador also “applauded the strong opposition voiced byChancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle” and called onthem to pass legislation that would safeguard religious freedom.To read the full article click here. http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/u-s-congressmen-express-deep-concern-over-german-circumcision-ban-1.457473We’ll keep you updated.***********************************************************************************************See you again in September 11
  12. 12. DuBow 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. 12

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