Du bow digest germany edition dec. 6, 2010


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Du bow digest germany edition dec. 6, 2010

  1. 1. GERMANY EDITIONDecember 7, 2010Dear Friends:We are getting our first dose of cold weather; however, here in the New Yorkarea but we haven’t had a flake of snow. I can only sympathize with you over thefrigid temperatures and piles of the white stuff you have been suffering in Europe.I believe that the Great Equalizer usually levels things off. Good for you, not forus.Meanwhile, in Israel, as I’m sure you heard, they are having the worse forest firein their history with more than 40 deaths. They’ve had to call in help from othercountries to get it under control. They’ve had a terrible drought which makes anyforest fire worse. A sad business!Snow, droughts…Is Mother Nature sending us a message?I thought that the fire might slow down the peace process but, frankly, it doesn’tseem to be going anywhere fire or no fire. With Pres. Obama tied down with taxissues, Netanyahu taken up with the fire and Abbas still demanding a 3 monthsettlement freeze nothing is moving. I have the feeling that almost everything isfrozen (including my poor friends in Germany) until, at least the New Year.Being that the holiday season is upon us and AJC has asked me to shepherd theincoming German participants in the annual exchange program we have with theAdenauer Foundation next week (They’ll be visiting Washington, Atlanta andNew York) this will be the last edition of DuBow Digest until January. You’llsurvive.I hope that my Jewish readers have had a nice Hanukkah and that the Christiansamong you have a great Christmas.May we all have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!On to the news…THE WESTERN WALLIt’s not only politics that separate the Israelis and the Palestinians and make anysort of a peace agreement exceedingly difficult. Religion and religious sites are inmany ways much more difficult, though not impossible, to deal with. When oneside says that the holiest site of the other side really doesn’t belong to them, itexacerbates the problems and difficulties. Read the story that follows… 1
  2. 2. The holiest site for religious Jews throughout the world is the Western Wall inJerusalem. It is sacred because it is a remnant of the Herodian retaining wall thatonce enclosed and supported the Second Temple. It has also been called the"Wailing Wall" by European observers because for centuries Jews havegathered here to lament the loss of their temple.From 1948, during the first Israel – Arab war, the site was captured by theJordanian army and stayed in their hands until the Six Day War (1967) when itwas taken by Israel Defense Forces (IDF). During the 1948-67 period Israelisand almost all Jews from other countries were prohibited from visiting andpraying there.Recently the Jerusalem Post reported, “The Western Wall belongs to Muslimsand is an integral part of Al-Aksa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif (the Islamic termfor the Temple Mount complex, meaning the Noble Sanctuary), according to anofficial paper published on Monday by the Palestinian Authority Ministry ofInformation in Ramallah.The paper, which has been presented as a “study,” was prepared by Al-Mutawakel Taha, a senior official with the ministry, to “refute” Jews’ claims to theWestern Wall. In the past, PA leaders and officials have also denied Jewishrights to the Wall, insisting that the Temple Mount never stood in the area.The new document claims that the Western Wall, or Al- Buraq Wall, as it isknown to Muslims, constitutes Waqf property owned by an Algerian- MoroccanMuslim family.It claims there isn’t one stone in the wall that belongs to the era of King Solomon.The “study” also contends that the path next to the Western Wall was never apublic road, but was established only for the use of Muslims living in the area ormaking their way toward the mosques on the Temple Mount.“The Zionist occupation falsely and unjustly claims that it owns this wall, which itcalls the Western Wall or Kotel,” Taha, who is also a renowned Palestinian poetand writer, wrote in his project.“Al-Buraq Wall is in fact the western wall of Al-Aksa Mosque.”There are 13 million Jews in the world, even those that are not religious, willstrongly (and I mean strongly) disagree with Mr. Taha’s conclusion. It only addsfuel to the fire. Let’s hope that cooler heads on the Palestinian side will prevail.For a Western Wall history click here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_WallFor an Israeli reply click here. http://www.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=196485 2
  3. 3. A week after the original story broke the U.S. State Dept. entered the fray. PhilipJ. Crowley, the State Dept. spokesman was quoted as saying, “…regarding aclaim by a senior Palestinian official that the Western Wall is an Islamic Waqf, westrongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect,insensitive, and highly provocative. We have repeatedly raised with thePalestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms ofdelegitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to theland. As the United States has long maintained, the status of Jerusalem must beresolved in final status negotiations between the parties. We recognize thatJerusalem is a deeply important issue to Israelis and Palestinians, to Jews, toMuslims, and to Christians everywhere. We believe it is possible to reach anoutcome that both realizes the aspirations of all parties for Jerusalem andsafeguards its stature for the future.And, after a few days and a lot of criticism, (J-Post.com) The PalestinianAuthority on Wednesday removed a report claiming that Jerusalems WesternWall is not holy to Jews from an official website, after it provoked furiousreaction. The PA Ministry of Information claimed that hackers had penetrated thesite and removed the post.However, a few days later, the report resurfaced on the PA website. TheJerusalem Post noted, “Only days after it was removed from the website of thePalestinian Authority Information Ministry, a “study” denying Jews’ right to theWestern Wall has resurfaced, this time on the official website of the PA’s newsagency Wafa. By publishing the document on its official website, the PA has senta message that its has officially endorsed its findings.The document accused “Zionist occupation of falsely and unrightfully” claimingownership of the Western Wall.The “study” disappeared from the website of the PA Information Ministry almostimmediately after the US condemned it strongly.Initially, the ministry claimed that hackers had penetrated its website andremoved the Western Wall report. However, a senior PA official in Ramallah lateradmitted that the “study” had been removed under pressure from the USadministration.Over the weekend, Taha’s document was reposted, this time on the Wafa newsagencys website, the official mouthpiece of the PLO and the PA.I guess that whoever it was that was responsible for the study’s removal got anearful from his superiors at the PA so back up it went. With all this political backand forth to take it down and then put it back up, you can imagine how it rates asfar as being a legitimate piece of scientific research. 3
  4. 4. The next step is to claim that the Torah doesn’t belong to the Jews either. So itgoes. What is most troubling to me is that the PA is willing to entertain andpromote this sort of religious “warfare” (my term). It is depressing because itshows the enormous distance that there is between the two sides which will haveto be broached if any kind of peace is to be established. Don’t hold your breathwaiting for it to happen.OH KANADA!JTA recently reported, “Canada will boycott the third U.N. conference againstracism, citing the charged anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric at itspredecessors.Immigration Minister Jason Kenney at a Nov. 25 news conference said the U.N.General Assembly has chosen to "repeat and even augment the mistakes of thepast" by holding an anniversary conference in New York next September, timedto coincide with the annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly."Canada will not participate in this charade," Kenney said. "Canada is clearlycommitted to the fight against racism, but the Durban process commemorates anagenda that actually promotes racism rather than combats it.""We will not lend our good name to this Durban hate fest," Kenney said.The conference is slated to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2001 meeting inSouth Africa aimed at defeating xenophobia and racism. Canada and severalother countries walked out of that meeting after Iran and several other countriesengaged in Israel-bashing.The United States led a walkout of the first conference in Durban, South Africa,in 2001 after it devolved into an anti-Israel hate-fest. A number of Westernnations kept away from its follow-up in 2009.Canada was the first country to withdraw from Durban II last year in Geneva”One can only applaud Canada for its principled stance. The two prior DurbanConferences have focused primarily on Israel and have been loaded with anti-Semitic rhetoric.The big question is whether the United States and the EU will follow suit. Nodoubt, some of the EU countries will participate. Their records on dealing withattacks on Israel are not what I would call exemplary. That leaves Germany. Willthe Federal Republic opt out or will it use the tired excuse of “Well fight fromwithin”. Incidentally, given the fact that the U.S. decided to participate in the UN 4
  5. 5. Human Rights Council using the same line rather than staying outside, there isno guarantee what it is Pres. Obama will decide.With Durban III scheduled to take place in New York in September of 2012, Ithink we can count on massive demonstrations opposing it from a whole raft ofboth Jewish and non-Jewish organizations. Stay tuned! I’ll keep you updated.Thanks Canada!NO JEWISH STATE, NO LAND SWAPS – NO NOTHING!In the Palestinian world it does not seem that (see above) “cooler heads”, at leastfor the time being, are prevailing.Recently The Jerusalem Post reported, “The Fatah Revolutionary Councilconcluded its fifth convention in Ramallah over the weekend by declaring itsrefusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.The council also urged the Palestinian Authority leadership to work toward foilinga new Israeli law requiring a referendum before any withdrawal from Jerusalemand the Golan Heights that has not been passed by two thirds of the Knesset.The Palestinians are opposed to any understandings between Israel and the USthat could harm their interests, the council said.“The council affirms its rejection of the so-called Jewish state or any otherformula that could achieve this goal,” said a statement issued by the council.“The council also renews its refusal for the establishment of any racist statebased on religion in accordance with international law and human rightsconventions.”The council made its statement as Israel awaits a document from the US whichwould set out an incentives package in exchange for a 90-day freeze on newsettlement construction based on the terms of the 10- month moratorium on suchactivity which expired on September 26.The Palestinians have insisted that Israel must halt all settlement activity beforedirect negotiations can be resumed.An Israeli government official on Saturday night called on the Palestinians toresume direct negotiations without any preconditions.“Let us meet and talk,” he said. 5
  6. 6. The official said he was disappointed by the council’s statement with respect to aJewish state.Maybe it’s all just a negotiating ploy but, in the final analysis (at least in myanalysis) no Palestinian leader will (or, perhaps, can) agree to have any part ofwhat is now Israel considered a “Jewish State”. There is the religious belief thatthe land is Arab and there are too many extreme elements that would enforcethat. If the current Fatah/ PA agreed they would be dead in a very short period oftime. It’s really as simple as that.Therefore, as I have said before, the best we can hope for is a situation of “nowar” and some sort of agreement with very vague language that would map outthe two countries. I think the Israelis might even buy a situation with temporaryboundaries. It would not be a final settlement but “final” is just not in the cards atthe moment so “temporary” would be better than nothing.To be fair, the Israelis have their own strong right wing but if something could beworked out I think the citizenry and the leadership could sell it if the word“temporary” appeared.In the meantime Pres. Obama and Secy. Clinton are working on a freezeextension. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with that.CLAIMS CONFERENCE FOLLOW UPIn my last edition I wrote about the disgraceful fraud that had been perpetratedon the Claims Conference which handles the funds from the Federal Republicgoing to Holocaust survivors.The Jewish Week reported recently, “As the Conference on Jewish MaterialClaims Against Germany seeks to root out additional cases of fraud, the $42.5million scandal that has rocked the organization has rekindled dissatisfactionwith the group’s annual allocation of tens of millions of dollars.To address those growing complaints, Julius Berman, the Claims Conferencechairman, told The Jewish Week he plans to announce “in a couple of days”appointments to a long-delayed special committee that is to review past andfuture disbursements.Berman said the new Allocations Policy Review Committee “would be broadlyrepresented” by Israeli and American Holocaust survivors.He said it would “review where the money has gone over the last few years” anddiscuss future allocations. 6
  7. 7. I do not have intimate information regarding how the funds are handled ordisbursed. However, if nothing else, it seems as if the financial oversight thatshould have been in place was sadly missing. The fact that the fraud had beengoing on for 16 years (at least) and had reached $42.5 million dollars is proofenough that the whole system needs a re-organization. Let’s hope that Mr.Berman is able to get the situation resolved and that all the questions about theallocation of funds can be cleared up shortly.If you want to read more of the gory details click here.http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new_york/fresh_scrutiny_claims_conference_allocationsJONATHAN POLLARDI’m not sure that anybody in Germany knows about Jonathan Pollard – and thereis no reason why you should. He is an American Jewish disgrace. Pollard was aU.S. civilian military intelligence analyst, who was arrested and convicted ofspying for Israel and, in 1987, was sentenced to life in prison. He is still there.The Israeli government claimed that he was not sanctioned by the governmentbut was spying for a “lone wolf” operation and did not have any officiallyconnection to the government. The entire story is long and involved and you canread the details by clicking here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_PollardTo many, it seemed that the punishment was too severe when compared to othersuch cases. For some years now there have been efforts both in the U.S. andIsrael to have him released. In 1995 Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship and, ifreleased, would probably move there permanently.According to JTA, “A combination of timing, diplomatic considerations and,above all, good old-fashioned noodging has culminated in the biggest push inyears to free Jonathan Pollard.Insiders associated with the push, which resulted last week in a congressionalletter to President Obama asking for clemency for the American Jew convicted in1987 of spying for Israel, say the main factor was one man: David Nyer, anOrthodox activist from Monsey, N.Y.Nyer, working under the auspices of the National Council of Young Israel and theConference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, repeatedlycalled dozens of congressional offices and pressed Jewish groups asking for aleader to take on the case of Pollard, the former U.S. Navy analyst who hasspent 25 years in prison as part of a life sentence -- the longest sentence forspying for an ally. 7
  8. 8. Launching the initiative at a Capitol Hill news conference Nov. 18, (CongressmanBarney) Frank listed two factors that made the matter timely: Pollards 25 yearsin prison as of Sunday and the parlous state of the Israeli-Palestinian peaceprocess."The justification of this is the humanitarian one and the notion that the Americanjustice system should be a fair one," Frank said. "We believe that clemency after25 years for the offenses of Jonathan Pollard would do that."My own hope is that if the president would do this, it would contribute to thepolitical climate within the democracy of Israel and would enhance the peaceprocess."Frank alluded to Obamas low popularity in Israel where, fairly or not, thepresident has been saddled with a reputation as cool to Israeli interests."There are clearly people in Israel who are concerned about the nature of theAmerican-Israeli relationship," Frank said. "An affirmation of that relationshipwould go forward" to alleviating such concern.I believe that the feeling about Pollard in the Jewish community is somewhatconflicted. Those that know about it and have followed it (not everyone has)understand that Pollard put the American Jewish community in a veryembarrassing position. Any action that puts distance between the U.S. and Israelis seen as a danger. An admitted criminal (spying) act is even worse. However,almost 25 years has passed and a more sympathetic feeling has emerged. Thereis little doubt that the criminal justice system has treated him more harshly than,perhaps, he deserved and the time for a little compassion is somewhat overdue.After all, Pollard was not spying for any enemy and, today he is certainly nolonger a threat to society or American security. Whether a plea for release shouldbe mixed up with President Obama’s role in the Middle East peace process isgermane to the case is questionable.Most Presidential pardons or commutations are usually issued near the end ofthe year or at the end of a Presidential term. The latter is not due for quite a longtime. So, we’ll just have to wait to see what Pres. Obama does by December 31st.Stay tuned!HANUKKAH IN BERLIN & TOBY AXELRODI was delighted to see that the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah in Berlin madequite a splash in the Anglo-Jewish media here in the U.S. The story by JTAcorrespondent Toby Axelrod (a friend and a wonderful journalist) noted, “It wasn’tjust any menorah among the thousands that the Chabad-Lubavitch movementerects every Chanukah in public locations around the world. (Yehudah)Teichtal, 8
  9. 9. the Chabad rabbi in the German capital, was erecting this one at theBrandenburg Gate, once a symbol of Nazi power.By nightfall on the first night of Chanukah, the gate through which the Nazismarched and which for 28 years marked the dividing line between East and WestBerlin had been transformed into a Jewish symbol.In what was “the cold, dark center” of Nazi Germany, “we are here to say AmYisrael Chai!’” -- the Jewish people live, said Teichtal, his voice booming acrossUnter den Linden Boulevard. A few hundred revelers answered in kind.The message is clear: In Germany, the Jews live again.More than 200,000 Jews are living now in Germany, the majority of themimmigrants from the former Soviet Union who came after 1990.“Twenty or 30 years ago, nobody would believe that this would happen here,”said Arkady Schwarz, deputy chair of Konigs Wusterhausen, a Jewishcongregation in Brandenburg.Being that Toby’s story is on the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) wire (sort of aJewish dpa) it will appear in many local Jewish community newspapersthroughout the U.S., Canada and Israel. Frankly, it is this sort of a story that doesmore to bring a clearer understanding of Germany to the American Jewish publicthan a dozen political stories.Toby, the Germany correspondent for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency andLondon Jewish Chronicle, was born in New York City in 1956. From 1988 to1997, she was a staff writer at the New York Jewish Week. She came toGermany in 1997 as a Fulbright scholar and stayed. She is also an author ofbooks dealing with Germany. She also worked for a while at AJC Berlin.In her own quiet way she is one of the most important “bridges” betweenAmerican Jewry and Germany. People in Germany should get to know herbetter.THREE CHEERS FOR PRESIDENT WULFFThere are symbolic acts that sometimes have greater impact than sweepingphysical actions. One of these has to do with the Israeli Soldier, Gilad Shalit, whowas kidnapped and is being held by Hamas in Gaza as a bargaining for therelease on many Palestinian prisoners (many of them terrorists) who are beingheld in Israel after legal convictions. 9
  10. 10. The Israelis and, indeed, Jews around the world have been lobbying for Shalit’srelease and, indeed, Germany has been very helpful with a BND operativeworking as a go-between trying to make some sort of a deal.The JTA recently reported, “German President Christian Wulffs unprecedentedvisit to the family of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit sends an importantsignal to the International Red Cross, Jewish activists in Germany said.Peter Diedrich, head of the German branch of the International Association ofJewish Lawyers and Jurists, said he hoped Wulffs visit Monday in Jerusalemwould boost his groups efforts to press for the soldiers release. Theorganization has a rally calling for Shalits release from captivity in Gaza plannedfor Dec. 10 outside the offices of the German Red Cross.The rally, to mark the 62nd anniversary of the passage of the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights, is part of an international effort coordinated by theIsrael-based parent association of Jewish lawyers and jurists to draw attention tothe case of Shalit, who was captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid from Gazain June 2006.Shalit has not been permitted to receive any Red Cross visits in contravention ofthe international bodys mandate to "visit prisoners of war and civilian interneesto verify whether they are being treated according to relevant internationalstandards."During his meeting with the soldiers family, Wulff pressed for a Red Cross visitto the soldier and for his release. The German presidents visit included meetingswith Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres andForeign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.Wulff is the first head of a state to visit the family and address the issue of theRed Cross, Diedrich told JTA in a telephone interview from his Berlin office. Thepresidential visit underscored that this "is just a human rights issue, andeveryone has not only the right but also the duty to go for it."When the German President visits the family of a kidnap victim, in my opinion,there is more to it than just a message to the Red Cross. It is a moral messageand puts the Federal Republic behind it. Joseph Stalin is famously said to haveasked an adviser, dismissively, “How many divisions does the Pope have?” Theanswer, of course, should have been, “How many does he need?” Pres. Wulffhas no divisions either but he is the moral voice of Germany and that says a lotmore than having a massive army.So, three cheers for Pres. Wulff.P.S. We don’t forget our friends. 10
  11. 11. . 11