Du bow digest american edition april 7, 2013

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Du bow digest american edition april 7, 2013

  1. 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTERdubowdigest@optonline.netAMERICAN EDITIONApril 7, 2013Dear Friends:I am told that the Federal Republic has had the coldest March on record. Perhaps it onlyseemed that way but, nevertheless, when one is expecting spring warmth and is onlymet by biting cold, it tends to make one’s outlook on life exceedingly dim.The news seemed to reflect the weather.Articles about the financial bailout of Cyprus – for which the Germans mostly pay – didnot make matters appear rosier. This coming on the salvaging of the Greek economymade the weather seem even colder. The fact that (according to DW) “Honesttaxpayers are outraged over a global network established for the wealthy to evadetaxes” made the sharing of the bailing costs to be very unequal. It lowered thetemperature and outlook on life even further.Turkish – German relations, important considering the number of Turks in Germany,took a nosedive when the Turkish media was frozen out (pun intended) of seats at thetrial of the killer(s) of eight people of Turkish descent murdered by a neo-Nazi gang. Thecourt officials said it was not intentional. The Turkish media disagreed.Add to that the fact that the media reported widely that this April marked the 80 thanniversary of the Nazi systematic repression of the Jews which eventually resulted inthe Holocaust. In addition, a dispute broke out again as to whether Mein Kampf couldbe again published in Germany.The Germans could not wait for the winter cold to depart.On the subject of departing, I am getting ready to leave (on Apr. 19th) for Germany tostaff the American delegation for the 33rd annual exchange program AJC has with theKonrad Adenauer Foundation. I have been part of the program since its inception (athird of a Century ago) and have staffed the delegations many times.As I am now approaching the “twilight of my youth”, several months ago I spoke toAJC’s Director David Harris and told him though I was in excellent health I thought it 1
  2. 2. would best for the agency if someone younger took over the responsibility for theExchange. Therefore, the 2013 staffing assignment will be my last for this wonderfulprogram. I will continue my connection with AJC as a “Senior Advisor” and, of course,will continue to publish DuBow Digest.Enough! Let’s get on with the news…IN THIS EDITIONWHAT IF… - What if Israel and Iran were at war. What would Germany do?OUTLAWING THE NEO-NAZIS – A more ticklish matter than it might seem.BERLIN JEWRY – OY VEY! – Can’t we love each other?A PROVOCATIVE MUSEUM EXHIBIT – A Jew in the Box. Good for the Jews?ISRAELIS IN GERMANY – Welcome by other Jews?THE GERMAN PRESIDENT – Do you know him? Is he important?MINORITIES IN BERLIN – AND IN THE U.S – Same? Differences?AFRICAN GERMAN - A non-sports Jackie Robinson?WHAT IF…An important and interesting article appeared recently in The Wall Street Journaldealingwith what Germany should do if, indeed, a shooting war developed between Israel andIran. It was written by Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a former German defense minister,now at the Center for Strategic & International Studies and Ulf Gartzke who teaches atGeorgetown Universitys BMW Center for German and European Studies.They raise the question of what Germany could and should do if such a war came topass.They note, “Germany bears a special historical and moral responsibility to support Israelagainst an Iranian threat. First, Israels leaders and the Israeli public view the Iranianperil primarily through the prism of the Holocaust. Proponents of a military strike on Iranoften point to the Shoah as ultimate proof that Tehrans threats to destroy the State ofIsrael must be taken seriously. Second, ever since she became the first Germanchancellor to address the Knesset, in 2008, Angela Merkel has repeatedly declared that"Israels security is part of Germanys raison dêtre" and that it can "never benegotiable." 2
  3. 3. The chancellors statement is as true as it is important. There can be no doubt thatGermany is Israels closest and most vital ally in Europe. The two countries enjoyexceptionally close defense and intelligence ties. Berlin provided significant funding tohelp Israel acquire Germanys advanced "Dolphin" submarines, a critical boost to theIsraeli Defense Forces deterrence capability. The German government also workedbehind the scenes to negotiate the release of former Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit fromHamas captivity.Whats missing, however, is a broader debate—both in public and among top Germanofficials—about what Berlin should do if diplomacy fails and Israel is compelled to takemilitary action against the Iranian nuclear threat. Berlins opposition to a strike on Iransnuclear sites is well-known. In fact, German diplomacy seems careful to avoid creatingthe impression that Berlin expects or is even preparing for such an outcome. The fear isthat this kind of contingency planning might only encourage Israel to pursue a militarysolution above other options.There are good reasons for opposing a military showdown. But Berlin needs to explainits options to the German people, while clearly stating that an Iran with nuclear weaponswould threaten core security interests for Israel, the West and the region. This kind ofstrategic communications effort is even more important in a crucial Bundestag electionyear, and at a time when counterproductive Israeli settlement proposals, as well asGerman demographic and generational changes, risk undermining popular support forthe Jewish state. Opinion polls indicate that a majority of Germans view Israel as an"aggressive" country that "pursues its interests without consideration for other nations."Berlin should also start thinking about how to support Israel in the wake of potential airstrikes on Iran. It is better to develop a plan now than to engage in hectic ad-hocdecision making once the crisis has erupted. Germanys first priority should be to offerIsrael civil and military assistance to defend against potential counterattacks. This couldbe by offering medical equipment or reconnaissance specialists for weapons of massdestruction, or by shoring up the Bundeswehrs naval presence in the easternMediterranean. The deployment of Patriot antimissile batteries, though logisticallychallenging, should also be considered.Even if Israels actual needs are limited, offering quick, tangible support is a powerfulshow of solidarity and demonstrates that Israel is not facing this crisis alone.Second, Berlin should immediately push for a comprehensive cease-fire to limit Iransability to retaliate, for instance via its Hamas and Hezbollah proxies. This is not only inthe interest of the Israeli generals. It is also vitally important for the Western world tokeep the Straits of Hormuz open, to maintain Gulf stability and prevent attacks onmoderate Arab states, to deter large-scale international terrorist violence, and to avertwar between Israel and Lebanon or even Syria. 3
  4. 4. Tehran may cry foul if an Israeli ally asks for a cease-fire following a pre-emptive strike.Nevertheless, Berlin shouldnt underestimate its influence in a region where Americascredibility is strained, to put it mildly.Finally, Germany needs to marshal its full political and economic weight to maintain atough international sanctions regime against Tehran. An attack on Iran might benefit themullahs if existing sanctions were eased as a result, thereby allowing them toreconstitute their nuclear program with fewer restrictions moving forward.Certainly, all of these undertakings come with risks. But at the moment, there isnt evena closed-door discussion taking place about the potential options and responses.Unless this changes, Germany risks a further deterioration of public opinion at homeeven before any crucial decisions have been made.The stakes are high. Germany cannot afford to be on the wrong side of history”The article is obviously important because it raises the “What if…” question. Thepossibility of a military conflict between Israel and Iran has to be taken seriously andresultant actions by Germany should be shared with the citizenry in advance. It is a wiseand sensible thing to do. However, with a national election coming up in September Idoubt seriously that either major political party wants to talk about German involvement.However, no one will be able to say that the questions were not raised. Zu Guttenbergand Gartzke have performed a genuine service by writing this article.The article, of course, raises the question of what would the U.S. do? Wouldn’t it beworthwhile for our own government to start sensitizing the American public to thepossibilities of our involvement?OUTLAWING THE NEO-NAZISI have been reporting for some time about the attempts in Germany to outlaw the neo-Nazi NPD Party. The outlawing of any political party is a sensitive matter in Germany.Hitler outlawed them all except the Nazi Party so there is discomfort about such an act.In addition, there are the free speech elements which have to be considered.One would have thought that the ruling coalition would start the legal ball rolling thoughthere are obvious legal hurdles that have to be surmounted. However, that’s not whathappened. It was the possibility of failure that intervened.Spiegel On-Line reported, “ The German government is taking a back seat on attemptsto outlaw the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party, letting Germanys 16states make their case at the nations highest court alone. Editorialists support thedecision, saying right-wing extremism must be fought at the ballot box.German Chancellor Angela Merkels cabinet has declined to submit an application toban the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) at the countrys highest court, afterdisagreements in the governing coalition prevented it from coming to a consensus. 4
  5. 5. The pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), the junior coalition party, said theycould not sign an application to outlaw the party. FDP chairman Philipp Rösler, also theeconomy minister and vice chancellor, told reporters in Berlin on Monday that "you cantban stupidity," adding that the NPD must be fought with political means. The cabinetdecision was due to be formally announced to the public on Wednesday.The NPD, which holds seats in two state parliaments, vehemently opposes immigrationand rejects the German constitution, claiming it was imposed on the country by thevictorious Allies after World War II. Germanys domestic intelligence agency has called ita "racist, anti-Semitic, revisionist" organization determined to abolish democracy andcreate a Fourth Reich.Germanys upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, agreed last December to presentits own case against the NPD to the Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court. But now thedecision by the cabinet not to join the Bundesrat, which represents Germanys 16federal states, could weaken the bodys case.The Second Ban AttemptNews reports said the official cabinet statement acknowledged the Bundesratsapplication "with respect," but that it found submitting its own additional application tooutlaw the NPD "unnecessary."The NPD took the unusual step in November last year of seeking to preempt a ban bysubmitting its own request for the Constitutional Court to review its legality. The courtrejected the application earlier this month on procedural grounds.In 2002 the cabinet, the Bundesrat and the lower-house Bundestag all petitioned theConstitutional Court to outlaw the NPD. The court rejected the ban the following year onthe grounds that the party had been infiltrated by a number of government informants,and that those agents had a hand in shaping its policy.German media commentators on Tuesday mostly agree with the cabinets decision.They argue that while forcing the Bundesrat to make its case alone carries some risks,another failure to ban the NPD at the Constitutional Court poses the even greater risk ofinadvertently making the party stronger.It’s obvious that politicians across most of the political spectrum have grave doubtsabout the outcome of a Constitutional Court case. They tried it once eleven years agoand failed. This time the government is not willing to take the chance. No doubt – thereis strong feeling that the NPD should be outlawed but strong feeling does not alwayscarry the day when it comes to the courts.So, we now have to wait to see what the Bundesrat will do and then what the courts willrule if and when a case gets to them.At this moment it’s a wait and see time. Stay tuned! 5
  6. 6. BERLIN JEWRY – OY VEY!The famous Jewish philosopher Eugene DuBow once said, “The end of the Jews will bethe Jews. Internecine warfare will finish us once and for all”. It seems that the Jewishcommunity of Berlin is making a sage out of DuBow.Spiegel On-Line recently reported, “Amid accusations of waste, nepotism and smearcampaigns, long-established members of Berlins Jewish Community are in openconflict with relative newcomers from abroad. Severe financial difficulties are at the coreof their problems with one another.The members of the parliament of the Jewish Community of Berlin have assembledunder the gilded dome of their synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse, where the mood isfestive. But what unfolds inside is anything but festive.The Chairman of the Community, Gideon Joffe, 40, is standing in the middle, behavinglike a prosecutor. "The congregations budget deficit in 2011 was not €3.5 million ($4.5million), but €5 million." His predecessors, says Joffe, apparently fudged the numbers inthe annual report by overstating the value of real estate owned by the Community. Anonlooker, speaking with a Russian accent, hisses: "This is a case for the publicprosecutor."In the end, the Jewish Communitys parliament decides to appoint a committee toinvestigate the real estate deals made by the previous board.The conflicts are heated and emotionally charged in Germanys largest Jewishcommunity, which has about 10,200 members. Younger Russian immigrants are atloggerheads with long-established West Berliners, many of them in retirement age. Formore than a year now, the chairman of the Community parliament has been animmigrant. Now three representatives of those who were voted out of office arecollecting signatures for new elections to replace Chairman Joffe, who comes from aLatvian family.The conflicts revolve around power and wounded pride, intrigues, jobs and perks, aswell as shady business dealings. And because the Community has knowingly paid itsemployees pensions that were too high for years, it now owes the city-state of Berlinsome €9 million. Late last year, the Berlin Senate felt compelled to issue a "recoveryorder" and withhold €100,000 of the monthly subsidies allotted to the Community, a firstin Berlin politics.Perhaps we should expect this sort of internal battling. You have an older group ofleaders some of whom whose families have been in Germany since the end of WW II.By the way, practically none of them were German Jews but, rather, “DisplacedPersons” from all over Europe who did not leave for Israel or the U.S. They are the “oldtimers”. Then there are the Russians that came after the fall of the Berlin Wall who arefinally trying to push their way into leadership positions.Perhaps, this sort of friction should be expected. In addition “not everyone can love 6
  7. 7. everyone else” so the battle has broken out into the open. In all likelihood DuBow will beproven wrong. Didn’t we have the same battles in New York at the turn of the 20thCentury? German Jews and Eastern European Jews didn’t get along all that well andsomehow that is all behind us these days. So the same will probably happen in 20 or 30years in Berlin.P.S. I never liked DuBow’s philosophy anyway.A PROVOCATIVE MUSEUM EXHIBITSince I’m on the subject of Berlin, I came across a piece in Fox News about aprovocative exhibit at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.It reported, “Nearly 70 years after the Holocaust, there is no more sensitive an issue inGerman life as the role of Jews. With fewer than 200,000 Jews among Germanys 82million people, few Germans born after World War II know any Jews or much aboutthem.To help educate postwar generations, the Jewish Museum in Berlin offers a Jewish manor woman to sit inside a glass box for two hours a day through August to answervisitors questions about Jews and Jewish life. The base of the box asks: "Are there stillJews in Germany?""A lot of our visitors dont know any Jews and have questions they want to ask,"museum official Tina Luedecke said. "With this exhibition we offer an opportunity forthose people to know more about Jews and Jewish life."But not everybody thinks putting a Jew on display is the best way to build understandingand mutual respect.Since the exhibit — "The Whole Truth, everything you wanted to know about Jews" —opened this month, the "Jew in the Box," as it is popularly known, has drawn sharpcriticism within the Jewish community — especially in the city where the Nazisorchestrated the slaughter of 6 million Jews until Adolf Hitlers defeat in 1945.Eran Levy, an Israeli who has lived in Berlin for years, was horrified by the idea ofpresenting a Jew as a museum piece, even if to answer Germans questions aboutJewish life."Its a horrible thing to do — completely degrading and not helpful," he said. "TheJewish Museum absolutely missed the point if they wanted to do anything to improvethe relations between Germans and Jews."But several of the volunteers, including both German Jews and Israelis living in Berlin,said the experience in the box is little different from what they go through as Jews livingin the country that produced the Nazis. 7
  8. 8. "With so few of us, you almost inevitably feel like an exhibition piece," volunteer LeeorEnglander said. "Once youve been outed as a Jew, you always have to be the expertand answer all questions regarding anything related to religion, Israel, the Holocaustand so on."After some reflection I think I come down on the side of Leeor Englander. If you’reJewish living in Germany you are ipso facto considered an expert on all things Jewish.Anything that anybody can do to explain to questioners about Jews, Judaism, Israel oranti-Semitism seems to me to be all to the good. In fact my Germany Edition has thesame goal.There is more to the story which you can read by clicking here.http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/03/29/provocative-exhibit-at-jewish-museum-puts-jews-in-box-to-answer-visitors/ISRAELIS IN GERMANYOne hears frequently that many Israelis have been moving to Germany – especiallyBerlin. However, numbers are difficult to come by (Impossible?). Two other thingsfrequently heard were that the Israeli government was not happy with this turn of events(understandable) and that the Berlin Jewish community had, sort of, turned their backson them (not understandable).The latter is no longer the case. The Berlin Jewish community now has established anIsraeli Department.The Times of Israel recently reported, “As Israelis have learned, Berlin’s Jewishcommunity has a complicated history with outsiders. The birthplace of the JewishEnlightenment and Reform Judaism, it has often been less progressive in acceptingnewcomers, partly out of fears relating to its own vulnerable status. In the late 19th andearly 20th centuries, native German Jews often referred to Jewish immigrants fromEastern European as “Ostjuden,” literally “Eastern Jews,” but a term that carries a noteof derision. Ultimately, the old-timers’ attempts to distance themselves meant little —Berlin’s Jewish community as a whole was almost completely exterminated during theHolocaust.After the war, the small community consisted mostly of refugees from Eastern Europe. Itexpanded rapidly following the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the Germangovernment, eager to revive the country’s Jewish life, offering generous benefits toimmigrants. About 20,000 chose Berlin, and half today are registered as officialmembers of the community. They were joined over the past five years by a wave ofIsraelis — including Oraizer and his family — numbering between 5,000 and 15,000,according to estimates by the Israeli embassy in Berlin.About 150 showed up for the launch of the new initiative, held in the renovated NewSynagogue, which also serves as the offices of the community. There they found a 8
  9. 9. buffet with hummus and little Israeli flags on the chairs. The message, clearly, was thatthey were welcome.“For too long, we have done too little,” said Dr. Gideon Joffe, the Israeli-born chairmanof the Jewish Community’s board, who moved to Germany as a child. “We’ve heard alot about Israelis coming to Berlin, but until now, we’ve done little to help them. That haschanged …There was mixed emotion on the part of the people at the meeting. Dr. Joffe’s talk wasnot enthusiastically received by everyone. You can read about it by clicking here.Obviously, there are mixed emotions about Israelis coming to live in Germany.However, now, at least, the Jewish community in Berlin is dealing with it.http://www.timesofisrael.com/berlin-jews-formally-welcome-israelis-long-in-their-midst/#.UVRRpKQISWE.emailTHE GERMAN PRESIDENTI believe it is often forgotten (or not even known) that Germany has a President as wellas a Chancellor. If you missed it somehow, the current President, Joachim Gauck is(Wikipedia) “A former Lutheran pastor, he came to prominence as an anti-communistcivil rights activist in East Germany.During the Peaceful Revolution, he was a co-founder of the New Forum oppositionmovement in East Germany, which contributed to the downfall of the Soviet-backeddictatorship of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). In 1990 he served as amember of the only freely elected Peoples Chamber for the Alliance 90.Following German reunification, he was elected by the Bundestag as the first FederalCommissioner for the Stasi Archives, serving from 1990 to 2000. As FederalCommissioner, he earned recognition as a "Stasi hunter" and "tireless pro-democracyadvocate," exposing the crimes of the former communist secret police.In 2010 Gauck was put up as a presidential candidate by the Green and SPD partiesbutlost to CDU candidate Christian Wulff. When Wulff resigned (scandal) about a year ago,Gauck was nominated again and this time was elected.According to DW, “Although the German presidents role is mostly limited to ceremonialand supervisory duties, the position allows its holder to steer political and socialdebates. Joachim Gauck has tackled controversial issues head on.Much time passed before Joachim Gauck held his first major speech as president ofGermany. In February 2013 - 11 months after taking office - he invited some 200 gueststo his official residence, the Bellevue Palace in Berlin, to talk about Europeancooperation. Germany has expected lofty oratory from its heads of state at least since a1997 speech by Roman Herzog in which the former president memorably urged thecountry to go in new directions. 9
  10. 10. The current president spoke in no uncertain terms of a crisis of confidence in Europe,marked by "impatience, exhaustion and frustration among the people." He noted thatthe eurozone debt crisis combined with globalization had led to uncertainty overwhether Europe was on the right path. The way ahead requires a new driving force, hesaid, "an identity-forging narrative that touches hearts and triggers constructive actions."As a solution, he called for a renaissance of certain shared European values that haveevolved over centuries, emphasizing tolerance, equality, solidarity, cooperation andaltruism. This, according to the German president, requires a new sense of a Europeanpublic, perhaps aided by measures like the creation of a pan-European televisionchannel.One of Gauck’s first visits was to Israel. In May of last year, Spiegel On-Line reported,“While Germanys new president, Joachim Gauck, has been on his first state visit toIsrael this week, images in the papers at home have shown him visiting the IsraeliHolocaust memorial Yad Vashem and meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres andPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.But it has been the popular presidents choice of words when describing the countrysrelationship to Israel that have generated headlines.Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Jerusalem, Gauck appeared to distance himselffrom German Chancellor Angela Merkels stated position that the security of Israel isGermanys raison détat, or national interest, and that Germany would stand by Israeleven in the event of war with Iran -- comments for which she herself has been heavilycriticized at home."I dont want to think of war scenarios," Gauck said, but added, "Germany should be thevery last country to turn away from friendship and solidarity with Israel."At a meeting with Peres that same day, Gauck said: "Advocacy for Israels security andright to exist is a defining part of German policy." By avoiding use of the term raisondétat, however, Gauck has been criticized at home for overstepping his bounds aspresident, a largely ceremonial post.On Wednesday, he responded to the criticism of his remarks. "If someone wants to seea divide between the chancellor and me because of a choice of words, that would be amistake," he said in Jerusalem. "I completely agree with Angela Merkel on this issue."Joachim Gauck has now been in office for a year. I have always felt that the Presidentin Germany, the “moral voice” of the country is of special importance to the Jewishpeople and to Jewish interests. He sets an important tone. Therefore, it is vital to followwhat he has to say. So far so good!By the way, (DW again), “Gaucks approach has met with approval in Germany.According to surveys, three out of four Germans are satisfied with his performance.Only 10 percent were critical of the president. These statistics have hardly changed inthe year since he assumed office. It seems that Gauck has not made many mistakes so 10
  11. 11. far, although hes also far from a political star.”MINORITIES IN BERLIN – AND IN THE U.S.Anyone who knows anything about Germany knows that it has a large non-citizenpopulation of Turkish descent. And – anyone who knows anything about minority life inthe U.S. knows that while it is far different than the Federal Republic both countries faceproblems centering on the questions of immigration and citizenship.Robert H. Reid, writing for AP notes in an article that appeared in many papers acrossthe U.S. notes, “More than three million people of Turkish origin live in Germany - thelegacy of West Germanys Cold War-era program to recruit temporary foreign laborduring the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s when the country rebuilt after World WarII.What started as a temporary program has changed the fabric of German urban life -from mosques on street corners to countless shops selling widely popular Doenerkebab fast food sandwiches.Germanys experience with "guest workers" offers lessons for the United States as itdebates immigration reform, including whether to provide a path to citizenship forunskilled foreign laborers, or whether there should be additional temporary-only visasfor such workers. President Barack Obama has urged Congress to begin debate in Aprilafter lawmakers return from a two-week recess.Decades after Germanys formal guest worker program ended in the early 1970s, thecountry is still wrestling with ways to integrate Turks - the second biggest group amongthe estimated 15 million-strong immigrant community after ethnic Germans who movedfrom the former Soviet Union and for Soviet bloc countries - into German society.Initially, the Germans felt they didnt need an integration path.They foresaw a temporary program of rotating labor, where workers from Turkey, theBalkans and southern Europe would spend a couple of years on an assembly line andthen go home to be replaced by others if industry still needed them.But factory managers grew tired of retraining new workers every couple of years andconvinced authorities to allow contract extensions.Many immigrants, especially young Turkish men who faced grinding unemployment athome, opted to stay in Germany, bringing their families and building lives here despitediscrimination in education, housing and employment.Although immigrants could stay legally with government-issued residence permits, theycould not apply for citizenship for 15 years, although the period has been shortened inrecent years. Without fluent German, and state-supported language programs, manywere unable to pursue good educations and well-paying jobs. 11
  12. 12. As a result, the Turkish community remains the least integrated immigrant group inGermany, according to the private Berlin Institute for Population and Development.Immigration critics blame the Turks for refusing to abandon traditions of rural Turkey,failing to learn German and take advantage of educational opportunities. Critics notethat more than 90 percent of marriages by ethnic Turks are to other Turks - in partbecause of cultural restrictions against marrying outside the Muslim faith.Over the years, the existence of a parallel society of marginalized people speaking adifferent language and following different religious and social customs has triggered abacklash in a country which only recently has considered itself a nation that welcomesimmigrants.German attitudes toward immigration and citizenship also proved an obstacle to full andrapid integration. Although attitudes are changing, Germany never perceived itself as animmigrant society like the United States. German society values conformity.Unlike the United States, Germany does not automatically grant citizenship to anyoneborn on German soil. Even though the naturalization process has been shortened, it stilltakes years and requires knowledge of the German language and history.In 2000, a new law granted German citizenship to German-born children of longtimelegal residents. By age 23, those children must decide whether to keep Germancitizenship or their parents nationality.Chancellor Angela Merkels government has refused calls from Turkish and otherimmigrant communities to allow dual citizenship. Many immigrants are reluctant to applyfor German citizenship because they want to hold on to their original nationality.The American and German situations are, of course, very different and I’m not sure wecan learn anything from the German situation, In fact, the shoe might be on the otherfoot - Germany can probably learn a lot from us. As Reed points out, “Germany neverperceived itself as an immigrant society”. However, open borders, 21st Centurytransportation and the movement of populations just about force every country in theWestern World to be an “immigrant society”. The head of the Green Party is of Turkishdescent as are several members of the Bundestag. A mixed population in Germany willtake a few more generations for the “natives” to get used to it. They’re working on it. Itwill make them a better nation.AFRICAN GERMANRecently the American media has been loaded with stories about a new movie, “42”about the first African American baseball player, Jackie Robinson. His name has beencelebrated throughout the U.S. for many years. No such publicity has appeared as yetin Germany about Karamba Diaby but one of these days it might be.So, who is Karamba Diaby? According to Spiegel On-Line, “In July 1991, two youthspunched Karamba Diaby in the face and chased after him in a racist attack in Halle, an 12
  13. 13. eastern German town with a significant neo-Nazi problem. Now hes about to campaignin the city to become the first black member of the German parliament in the Septembergeneral election.Diaby, 51, who has a PhD in chemistry, was born in Senegal and has spent almostthree decades in Germany. He moved to East Germany in 1985 before the fall of theWall to study at the University of Leipzig before moving to Halle a year later. He hasbeen nominated as the candidate for the center-left Social Democratic Party. The factthat he has been given the third slot in the partys list of candidates means he has avery solid chance of securing a seat in the Bundestag, or federal parliament, in Berlin."It could be that some people have problems with the color of my skin," he toldSPIEGEL. "But I hope I will be accepted because I am involved in many projects."Diaby gained German citizenship in 1991, is married to a German and has two children.He doesnt like talking about what campaigning is like for a black person in Germany.He doesnt want to belittle the problem of racism in eastern Germany, but he doesntwant to accuse all voters of racism either. Hed prefer just to be able to ignore his originsand to focus the campaign on his pet issues like education, social justice and theenvironment.That may not be possible though. Two years ago, the right-wing newspaper JungeFreiheit printed a photo of him on its front page and shortly afterwards Diaby, who wasworking on a project to help immigrants integrate into German society, was showeredwith abusive letters calling him a "Nigger" and telling him to "get back into the bush."These days, he says he doesnt suffer from neo-Nazi violence. "I can take a taxi whenIm in an uncomfortable neighborhood," he says. In some districts in the city, the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) scored almost 10 percent of the vote during thelast state election in 2011. And some parts arent even considered safe for people withdarker skin at night.As a campaigner, he says hes going to get out and meet many people. "Im not naïve,"he says. "I dont rule out that someone might feel provoked."But he adds that he wont let himself be intimidated. "Im an authentically easternGerman politician," says Diaby.When Jackie Robinson broke into baseball there were very mixed emotions in the U.S. Idoubt that anyone at that time thought he would become one of America’s iconic heroesand that his number would be retired throughout organized baseball for all time. I’m notsure that the same fame and acclaim will be wrought in the future for Mr. Diaby.However, you have to give the guy a lot of credit. He’s got real cojones!******************************************************************************************See you again in May.DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted by 13
  14. 14. clicking hereBoth the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.comClick here to connectBTW – all editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com 14

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