Du bow digest american edition september 25, 2011

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A newsletter on American Jewish - German relations

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Du bow digest american edition september 25, 2011

  1. 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.netAMERICAN EDITIONSeptember 25, 2011Dear Friends:First and foremost let me wish you the best for the upcoming year. L’Shanah Tovah!This past week has been a difficult one for Israel and the Jewish people in terms ofwhat has been happening at the United Nations. There was not much of a role forthe Germans to play and so practically nothing was heard from them. Whatevervotes they may cast on upgraded Palestinian membership are in the future and wewill have to see what course their leaders map out for themselves.At the moment most German political energy is being spent on the financial future ofthe European Union and how to keep its weakest members from going into default.While Chancellor Merkel is strong for Germany trying to keep the EU together, thereare forces that are in opposition feeling that Germany should not be furthersupporting those that are not keeping up.If you are interested in such things click here for a Yahoo.com story on the issuehttp://old.news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110924/bs_nm/us_eurozone_germany_esmSo, with the New Year wish of “Apples & Honey” for you all, let’s get on with thenews…IN THIS EDITIONGERMANY & THE UN – Their role as a Security Council member.NEO-NAZISM IN M-WP – Neo-Nazis gain seats in a state election – again!BANNING THE HNG – A neo-Nazi organization is banned.GERMANY, THE EURO & THE JEWS – Is a stronger EU good for the Jews? 1
  2. 2. SUMMER OF CHANGE – European Jewry strengthens.THE BERLIN STATE ELECTION – National implications?THE POPE IN GERMANY – Homeland does not always mean Loveland.AN INTERESTING ESSAY – The grandson of a Nazi criminal writes about hisgrandfather and his own life.GERMANY & THE UNWith the vote on Palestinian statehood put off for an indeterminate period of time,Germany was not called upon to take any role in the debate. The Europeancountries may have more of a role as the situation moves on but, at the time of thiswriting, it is on the sidelines waiting – and thinking about what, if anything, they cando to be involved. They were involved in the Quartet Plan but that does not seem tobe going anywhere though in may in the future.Germany, consumed by the bailout problem and mostly subsumed as part of the EU,does not seem to have much of an independent role. According to Ralf Neukirchwriting in Spiegel On-Line, “Berlin had hoped that its current stint on the UnitedNations Security Council would ultimately be a springboard to permanentmembership. The opposite has proven to be the case. The countrys internationalinfluence is shrinking and diplomats in New York have lost faith in Germany.(On) March 17 of this year. That was the day on which the Security Council passedits Resolution 1973 on Libya, which called for the implementation of a no-fly zoneand the use of military force to protect the civilian population. All Western andAfrican members of the council voted in favor of the resolution. Except for one.””… the German UN ambassador was forced to abstain from the vote, on instructionsfrom Berlin. It was a decision which redrew the Security Council alliances --Germany suddenly found itself grouped together with Russia, China, India andBrazil. More than that, the vote represented a break with Germanys foreign policymaxim to never oppose its European partners and the United States.It was just one year ago that Germany was elected to serve a two-year stint as anon-permanent member of the council. The choice was seen as Foreign MinisterGuido Westerwelles greatest success to date. And it was intended as a first step onthe road to a UN reform and a permanent German seat on the council.But with Westerwelle in New York this week to attend another session of the UNGeneral Assembly, Germanys record on the Security Council to date is worse thaneven the greatest pessimists had expected. The Germans had hoped to portraythemselves as a force for good and to exert a positive influence on Western policies. 2
  3. 3. Instead, Berlin must now prove to its partners that it remains reliable. Germany, atthe moment, has little leeway at the UN.Furthermore, Berlins declared goal of becoming a permanent Security Councilmember has receded far into the distance. Why should the Americans, French orBritish stand behind a partner who cannot be relied upon in an emergency? Itselection last year to the council has harmed more than it has benefited Germany.Even prior to the Libya vote, Germany had become aware that even its closest allieswere not willing to grant Berlin a special role. The Germans wanted to be involved inpreliminary discussions among the French, British and Americans, as the SecurityCouncil veto holders established their position for future sessions. But Berlin wascoolly and decidedly rebuffed. Instead, the Western powers merely promised tokeep Germany informed.Neukirch continues making the case for a secondary international role for Germany.Has its post World War II position of being neutral on issues that call for militarypower make it eternally “vanilla”? I’m not sure. In addition, I’m not sure that it is agood thing for such a strong economic nation with Germany’s history to becomemore in line with those countries that are military prone.You can read the entire Neukirch piece by clicking here and making up your ownmind.http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,787322,00.htmlI’d be interested in your opinion and be glad to include it in the next edition.Not much of a surprise was Germany’s walkout when Iran’s Ahmadinejad spoke.According to DW-World, “The German delegation said it had left the assemblybecause of the "crude, anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-West tirade by the Iranianpresident."A French source told the AFP news agency that the departure had been coordinatedand was planned to take place if Ahmadinejad called into question European nationsfor their support of Zionism or referred to the Holocaust”.In addition Germany had announced earlier that it would not attend the Durban 3meeting and, indeed, did not. Interestingly, this anti-Semitic, anti-Israel hate festseemingly turned out to be a big nothing. It barely got any press and most of theWestern nations did not attend. If there is a Durban 4 it will probably be held in atelephone booth (if there are still any of them still around these days).NEO-NAZISM IN M-WPIn the last edition I wrote about the neo-Nazi party, NPD, once again gaining seats inthe parliament of Mecklenburg – Western Pomerania. While I termed the elections 3
  4. 4. only “disappointing”, David Crossland writing in Spiegel On-Line noted, “The state ofMecklenburg-Western Pomerania has allowed neo-Nazism to fester in its rural areasby neglecting the needs of local people and failing to confront xenophobia head-on.Analysts warn that Sundays election outcome for the far-right NPD party suggeststhe state is losing the battle against extremists.Far-right supporters are firmly ensconced in rural communities, where they staff thelocal fire departments, run leisure activities for young people and even providecitizens advice for welfare claimants. They live in a vacuum, in small towns andvillages abandoned by mainstream democratic parties and by overstretched,underfunded local authorities, and are often free to express their ideologyunhindered by the police or courts.The NPD won 6.0 percent of the overall vote in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania,enough to remain represented in the state parliament for a second five-year term.The NPD, which has five seats the Mecklenburg parliament, has been described bythe German domestic intelligence agency as being a "racist, anti-Semitic, revisionist"party bent on removing democracy and forming a Fourth Reich. However, the partyhas not yet succeeded in landing any seats in the federal parliament, theBundestag.Parliamentary representation is hugely important to the NPD because it provides itwith access to public funds, allows it to build up a professional staff and gives theparty a bigger platform from which to espouse its propaganda. Worst of all, it gains aveneer of respectability."For the situation to improve, the region needs a real economic turnaround, and amore vigorous confrontation and isolation of far-right ideology, everyday racism andthe NPD," and the justice system must take firmer action against far-right violence."Ingmar Dette, an anti-Nazi campaigner based in the town of Anklam, a notoriouslyfar-right part of the state, said the mainstream democratic parties were partly toblame for the NPDs strong showing on Sunday."They focused too much on campaigning in the cities," Dette told the HamburgerAbendblatt newspaper. Parties needed to do more to reach out to people in ruralareas.You should read the whole article which you can do by clicking here.http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,784686,00.html#ref=nlintThere are a couple of important points made in the article. First of all, allowing thesituation to continue without action from the main parties gives the NPD the ability tocontinue to exist and, perhaps, to grow.Second, there are things that can be done but none of the parties is doing anything. 4
  5. 5. The M-WP election brought forth a lot of media comment other than the Spiegel-Online article. In a roundup article The Local, a German news service noted, “Thecentre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung also said the continuing success of the neo-Naziparty in the northeast of Germany was deeply disturbing.“The problem how to undermine support for this party remains elusive. It has anotable core of voters – a problem seen in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and inSaxony, where it was won seats for the second time in row. Not even droppingunemployment helped. Something is deeply wrong in a society when the NPD hasgreater success in a state election than the FDP.”Germany is beginning to wake up to the problem. This is not the last time you willhear from me on the subject.BANNING THE HNGNo sooner had I finished the above piece when I read that Germany had bannedone of its largest neo-Nazi organizations. JTA reported, “Announcing the ban ofHNG, the "national organization for political prisoners and their relatives," GermanInterior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said Wednesday that the organizations realpurpose is to assist far-right extremists in opposing the democratic state.A series of raids on HNG cells followed the ban, and materials were seized asevidence at locations in the states of Bavaria, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westfaliaand Rhineland Pfalz. HNG, which reportedly was founded in 1979 and had 600members, was subjected to a search-and-seizure operation last year, whichrevealed that the group was actively working to undermine the democratic state,according to the Interior Ministry.Friedrich in his statement said that the federal government had to stop HNG frombolstering the aggressive, anti-democratic position of jailed right-wing extremists."By rejecting the democratic rule of law and glorifying Nazism, HNG was trying tobind far-right criminals to the scene, " he said.”HNG has contributed to the apparentradicalization of the neo-Nazi scene" through its solidarity with and financial supportfor criminals.HNG has been assisting mainly younger neo-Nazis. Another organization -- StilleHilfe, or Silent Aid -- has been helping accused or convicted Nazi war criminalssince 1951. Some observers say Stille Hilfe has helped accused criminals evadejustice.It appears that Minister Friedrich is already wide awake. 5
  6. 6. GERMANY, THE EURO & THE JEWSOver the years I have made it abundantly clear that I know very little abouteconomics. When I see an article about the Euro my mind wanders back to my lasttrip to Germany where I got very few of them for the dollars I exchanged.However, when I come across an article in Spiegel Online wherein ChancellorMerkel is reported as having said, “"The euro is much, much more than a currency,"Merkel said.”The euro is the guarantee of a united Europe. If the euro fails, thenEurope fails.", it gets me thinking.I’m not for Europe failing nor am I opposed to the nations in the EU having closermonetary and economic relations. That’s their business. If their economies arestronger then in all probability their democracies will also be stronger too. Economicweakness is all too often fuel for anti-democracy.What I worry about is Euro politics. The Spiegel article notes, “In a speech beforeGerman parliament, part of a general debate on the budget, Merkel made a plea for"more Europe" and said that to make Europe strong and lasting, "treatyamendments can no longer be taboo in order to bind the EU closer together." Shealso reminded her country that a strong Europe was in Germanys interest. "In thelong term, Germany cannot be successful if Europe isnt doing well too."It was unclear whether Merkel was referring to recent demands by Finance MinisterWolfgang Schäuble for a new treaty which would hand far-reaching fiscal powers toBrussels or to her own 2010 demands for a Lisbon Treaty amendment strengtheningdeficit rules.If there is a new treaty (or something like it) what will that mean for theindependence of German foreign policy? Will the EU govern more of the policydecisions regarding the Middle East and Israel? I have pointed out many times thatthe EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Lady CatherineAshton does not seem to be a particularly good friend of Israel’s.I’m a great believer in the maxim, as Deep Throat once said, “Follow the money”. Ifear that a strengthened economic EU will mean a strengthened political EU. Thatmay mean a tougher time for Israel and the Jews as independent German foreignpolicy weakens. Stay tuned.SUMMER OF CHANGEAccording to The Jewish Week, this past summer saw (in Uppsala, Sweden),“Summer of Change” … a high-energy collaboration between three internationalfoundations and organizations, all sharing a vision for revitalizing the European 6
  7. 7. Jewish community…”The first two of three successive meetings in Uppsala (all part of “Summer ofChange”) were co-sponsored by Paideia; ROI Community, a Jerusalem-basedglobal community of Jewish innovators created by Lynn Schusterman; and JHub:Jewish Action and Innovation, a London-based program funded by the PearsFoundation. The first meeting, Project-Incubator, conceived by Paideia and now inits sixth year, brings together European activists hoping to initiate new projects.Many of the participants also took part in the second conference, JPropel, a first-ever seminar for young Jewish innovators more advanced in their entrepreneurialwork who, as the name implies, would be propelled forward through technical andeducational support — and strengthened in their efforts by meeting like-mindedfolks from all over Europe.I was particularly interested is the part of the story about Valentiana Marcenaro wholives in Dresden. It noted, “Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen” changed ValentinaMarcenaro’s life. The Italy-born Marcenaro read it in Italian as an undergraduate atthe University of Trento. That book led her to study Jewish texts in order to betterunderstand the novel, and eventually to study — and return to — her own Jewishroots. She eventually wrote her thesis about women in Potok’s work.Marcenaro now lives in Dresden, Germany, where she organizes cultural events forthe Jewish community. Her German husband, a doctor, is in the process ofconverting to Judaism. She works to attract all of the community’s Jews as well asnon-Jews to attend the programs “to get to know Judaism.”“This is the only way to prevent racism,” she says. “I’m not saying we want old Nazisto show up. We want people to see that we’re exactly like them, we’re not exotic.”She adds, “The time has come for German young people to look forward. Jews nolonger need to define themselves through the Shoah. Jewish culture is about somuch more than that.”The loops and detours in Marcenaro’s life that led her back to practicing Judaismwith her family and to professional work in the Jewish community are singular, butmany of her fellow European participants in last month’s “Summer of Change” inUppsala, Sweden, had similarly striking stories of reclaiming their Jewish identityand asserting it in creative, meaningful ways.The story underlines the fact that Jewish life in Europe (and particularly in Germany)is far from stagnant or dead. Quite the contrary, with small Jewish communitiescoming back to life 66 years after the Holocaust there seems to be a kind of freshand exciting thinking that, perhaps, we do not find in either the U.S. of Israel. While Ido not want to appear too Pollyanna about this rebirth as it, in many ways, is just aflickering thus far. However, people fighting against the odds oft times have to use 7
  8. 8. imagination to score successes and European Jewry seems to have caught on tosomething unique and that, in itself, is exciting.Read the whole story by clicking here.http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/international/european_jewrys_summer_changeTHE BERLIN STATE ELECTIONYou may already know that Berlin is not only the German capital and a great city; itis also a German state. It recently had its state election and, once again, the partiesin the national coalition that govern the country took it on the chin.As expected, Social Democratic Mayor, Klaus Wowereit was re-elected. His partywill probably go into a coalition with the Green Party to rule state.Chancellor Merkel’s CDU will once again be in opposition. The biggest blow to theChancellor (whose party actually did better this election than in the last one) was thefact that her partner party, the Free Democrats, failed to make the 5% needed to geta seat in the state parliament. It added to the perception that both the Chancellorand her presumed partner are increasingly weak.The most interesting outcome was that a ”civil rights” kind of party, the Pirate Party,which had never before gained seats in a state election got enough votes to make itinto the Berlin parliament. If you’re interested in what the Pirate Party is, click here.http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15397528,00.htmlThe bottom line here has to be that, though expected, the German electorate seemsto have little or no faith in the current national coalition – especially the businessoriented Free Democrats. However, the national elections are two years off and a lotcan happen in that time. With both the CDU and the Social Dems (SPD), the twoparties that would normally oppose each other, both having about 30% of theelectorate, a Grand Coalition of the two seems more and more a possibility.Spiegel On-Line points out in a recent article, “Germanys ruling coalition of AngelaMerkels Christian Democrats and the FDP is under increasing pressureas the euro chaos continues. Some in the chancellors party are now contemplatinga return to the grand coalition with the Social Democrats. The SPD arent keen, butcould they say no?Read the article by clicking here.http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,786671,00.htmlTHE POPE IN GERMANY 8
  9. 9. One would think that when the German born Pope, Benedict XVI, visited his ownhomeland he would get a unanimous welcome from all his countrymen, Catholic andotherwise. And, that it would be forthcoming if for no other reason that he is the firstGerman since 1523 to reach the exalted position of leader of the world’s Catholics.Right? Wrong!Yes, His Holiness received a red carpet welcome from the Germany’s politicalleadership and was honored by being invited to give a speech at the Bundestag.However, according to DW-World,” At the same time, beyond the parliamentbuilding, six anti-pope demonstrations were underway in the center of Berlin. Forsecurity reasons, the demonstrators were kept away from the immediate vicinity ofthe parliament and instead gathered a kilometer away on Potsdamer Platz.Originally some 20,000 people had been expected, but estimates suggest around10,000 actually turned up. Some 6,000 police officers were on duty to protect thepope and to regulate the traffic near the sealed-off buildings and streets.Before the long-awaited speech to the German lower house of parliament by PopeBenedict XVI, a number of opposition parliamentarians had protested against theappearance of a religious leader in the Bundestag, on the grounds that it violatedthe separation of church and state. But in fact Pope Benedicts address was morelike a philosophical lecture than a political tool. The former theological professor,Joseph Ratzinger, reflected mostly on the relationship between reason and faith.The pope spoke of how difficult it is for politicians in the modern world to recognizetrue justice in lawmaking. He advised the parliamentarians to remember theChristian roots of the European conception of justice. He said that nature andreason were the true sources of justice.Much of the reception the Pope received in his 4 day trip in Germany was extremelypositive. However, as Spiegel On-Line pointed out before his arrival, “The popesvisit to Germany this week promises to be difficult. Abuse scandals among priestsworldwide have dimmed enthusiasm for the leader of the Catholic Church, even inhis homeland, and German papers on Thursday bicker over whether the pontiff evendeserves their respect.Its a difficult homecoming for the German-born pope, who felt compelled toacknowledge the planned protests to journalists on the plane from Rome . Protest is"normal in a free society and in the secularized world," he said. "I can understandthat some people have been scandalized by the crimes that have been revealed inrecent times," a reference to abuse scandals that have tarnished the Church indioceses from Australia and America to Europe. But, he said, "I was born inGermany. Such roots cannot be severed, nor should they be."From Berlin the pontiff planned to travel on to Erfurt and Eichsfeld in the easternstate of Thüringia, then to Freiburg in the south. 9
  10. 10. Being that I’m not a Catholic I’m not in a position to pass any sort of a judgmentregarding the Pope’s positions on major Church issues. I guess that if I was one I’dbe for having women priests, allowing priests to marry and be open to welcomingthose of all genders to marrying whomever they wanted to. However, my ownreligion is not so totally open to all those liberal practices so who am I to talk?I actually think it took some courage for the Pope to come back to Germany eventhough he knew he’d be facing a lot of criticism. I just hope he takes it all to heartand particularly understand how upset some of his constituents are about membersof the clergy molesting children and then having it covered up.In addition I hope he continues the policies first established by Pope John XX!!! Whoin 1965 said, “We are conscious today that many, many centuries of blindness havecloaked our eyes so that we can no longer see the beauty of Thy chosen people norrecognise in their faces the features of our privileged brethern. We realize that themark of Cain stands upon our foreheads. Across the centuries our brother Abel haslain in blood which we drew, or shed tears we caused by forgetting Thy love. Forgiveus for the curse we falsely attached to their name as Jews. Forgive us for crucifyingThee a second time in their flesh. For we know what we did."Incidentally, the Pontiff did meet with representatives of the German Jewishcommunity. According to Y-Net News, “Germanys small Jewish community praisedPope Benedict on Thursday for stressing the common roots of Christianity andJudaism but warned him it would be hurt if he honors wartime Pope Pius XII, who itsaid was silent during the Holocaust. Dieter Graumann, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany,also said Jews were hurt by his support for an ultra-traditionalist Catholic group theyconsider bigoted against Jews, Muslims, gays, women and Protestants.In his remarks to the Jews, Benedict said Christians should never forget the horrorsof the Holocaust and should become increasingly aware of their faiths deep affinitywith Judaism. Noting that the Nazis planned and organized the attempt toexterminate the Jews from offices in Berlin, Benedict called the city a "central placeof remembrance."You can read more about the meeting by clicking here.http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4126380,00.htmlAN INTERESTING ESSAYIn closing I thought you might like to read an interesting essay by Ferdinand vonShirach. He is a grandson of Baldur von Shirach who was a close Hitler associateand the head of the Hitler Youth. (Click here for information on him). The grandfather 10
  11. 11. was convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Heserved 11 and was released. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldur_von_SchirachAccording to Spiegel On-Line Ferdinand, 47, works as a defense attorney in Berlinand has published two bestselling collections of short stories ("Crime" and "Guilt").His first novel, "Der Fall Collini" ("The Collini Case," Piper Verlag, currently onlyavailable in German), has just been published. The novel tells the story of an Italiantoolmaker who murders a major German industrialist. The novel deals with theinherited guilt of Germans and scandals in the postwar justice system that dealt withNazi crimes. It also poses the question of how the grandchildrens generation shoulddeal with the guilt of their grandfathers.It is obvious, carrying the von Shirach name; the crimes of the grandfather are neverfar away from the grandson. His essay, Why I Cannot Answer Questions about MyGrandfather, is touching and instructive. In many ways it relates to the way today’syoung Germans handle the past.Read the essay by clicking herehttp://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,784373,00.html************************************************************************************************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 11
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