1AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINIONNEWSLETTERdubowdigest@optonline.netGERMANY EDITIONJune 18, 2013Dear Friends:While we have had quite a bit of rain here in the New York area and a little bit of localflooding, we have had nothing like what has been going on in Germany. Our hearts goout to you.Mideast peace is never far from Jewish consciousness and so the delay of Secy.Kerrys promised next trip to the area has raised some questions about what he thinkshis chances of succeeding are. Of course, both he and Pres. Obama are deeplyinvolved in thinking about what the U.S. role in the Syrian situation might benow that theU.S. has promised weapons to the rebels. Of course, Americans are trying to figure outwhat our role will be. No “boots on the ground”. That is certain. Jews are particularlyinterested in how Israel might be affected. Obviously, at this point there are morequestions than there are answers.The report that the Bundestag passed a resolution committing itself to renewed actionagainst anti-Semitism was warmly received in the American Jewish press. Since theparliament now remainsin session only until the summer break, well have to wait to seewhat sort of action plan will eventuate from the passage of this important resolution.Hopefully, we’ll see one in 2013-2014.No one expects much change from the election in Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’ssupreme leader, who runs the show, took it upon himself to denounce the U.S. and tosay that the Zionists run the American elections. Ahmadinejad may be gone but I havethe feeling that the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rants will continue. The new President issupposedly a “moderate”. That word has many meanings. We’ll have to wait and seewhat happens.By the way, Germany is about to get a new U.S. Ambassador. Philip D. Murphy will beleaving later this year and John Emerson, a Los Angeles investment managementexecutive who co-chaired the Obama campaign’s Southern California finance team, willbe nominated as the next U.S. ambassador to Germany. He must be confirmed by theSenate.
2The Washington Post reported, “In choosing Emerson to go to Germany, for example,Obama has selected a seasoned financial executive who brings a political backgroundfrom his work in the Clinton White House, colleagues said.“John was extremely well-respected inside the campaign, both for his politicalexperience and its overlay with his understanding of global financial markets,” saidWade Randlett, a top Obama campaign fundraiser who served with Emerson on anadvisory committee to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. “It‟s no surprise tome that the president tapped him for what is obviously one of the most important postsin global economics.”On the subject of the American President, he is going to be making a speech in Berlinthis coming week. We’ll be closely following what he has to say. If you have anyinteresting reactions let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org)So much for what Ive got on my mind. Lets get on with the news...IN THIS EDITIONZIONISM – There is a lot of anti-Zionist rhetoric one hears. But, what is Zionism? Howmuch about it do you really know? What does it take to be a Zionist? Find out below!ANGST & BLAME – A noted journalist tackles the question of what goes on inGermany’s “inner self”.THE CLAIMS CONFERENCE: A CALL FOR MORAL RESPONSIBILITY – A Jewishdisgrace needs a lot more self-confrontation – and answers.THE NEW MIDDLE EAST: A FASCINATING ANALYSIS – From a Palestinian source –what might the Middle East look like in the near and long term futures. Are thereimplications for Israel – Palestinian peace?LATRUN – Never heard of it? Another Palestinian roadblock to peace.HOLOCAUST MEMORIALS: AMERICAN STYLE – Not only in New York andWashington.ZIONISMOne of the most bandied about terms is “Zionism”. In the latter part of the 20thCentury itwas “Zionism is Racism”. Many in the Arab world can’t stomach the name “Israel” sothey refer to it as the “Zionist Entity”.So what is Zionism or being a Zionist? How might one define it?
3The great Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua who is (Wikipedia)” An ardent, untiring activistin the Israeli Peace Movement, Yehoshua attended the signing of the Geneva Accordand freely airs his political views in essays and interviews. He is a long-standing critic ofIsraeli occupation but also of the Palestinians” has tried his hand at a definition.I do not usually reprint long articles. However, the piece below not only spells out adefinition of an important term but it is so clear and beautifully written that I am going toviolate my own rule on article length. If you at all interested in the subject of Zionism youwill find Yehoshua’s article enlightening and easy to understand.In a Haaretz article he writes, ““Zionist” is a concept that‟s basically simple, clear, easyto define and understand, and there should be no difficulty defending its definition. Butover the past 20 to 30 years, this simple concept has turned into one of the mostconfused and complicated notions of identity, and its overuse has made it impossible toagree on what it means.The right likes to use it as a type of whipped cream to improve the taste of dubiousdishes, while the left treats it with fear, as if it were a mine liable to explode in its hands− which is why it always feels the need to neutralize it with some strange adjective, as in“sane Zionism” or “humane Zionism.” In the dispute between the “national camp” andthe “peace camp,” Zionism is used as an offensive weapon that is batted from one sideto the other.Abroad, critics of Israel use Zionism as a kind of poisonous potion to exacerbate everyaccusation against the state. Many critics believe that the solution to Israel‟s future liesin the de-Zionization of its identity. Among Israel‟s sworn enemies, “Zionist” is ademonic epithet, a term of denunciation that replaces the word “Israeli” or “Jew.” Hamasmembers speak of the captured Zionist soldier, and Hezbollah and Iran speak of thecriminal Zionist entity, not about Israel.So it‟s about time that we try to define the word “Zionist” realistically. First of all, wemust remember that from a historical perspective, the concept emerged only at the endof the 19th century. It‟s meaningless to try and describe Yehuda Halevi as a Zionist, orany other Jew who immigrated to the Holy Land in centuries past. In the same fashion,we can‟t use the terms “socialism” or “socialist” for periods before the middle of the 19thcentury, and describe Robespierre, for example, as the “socialist” of the FrenchRevolution, which occurred at the end of the 18th century. These concepts only havesignificance from the time when they emerged in a specific historical context, andtossing them around freely as labels for anything we choose is a clearly anachronisticact.If so, how would we define who is a Zionist, starting from the emergence of the Zionistmovement as inspired by Theodor Herzl and his associates? Here is the definition: AZionist is a person who desires or supports the establishment of a Jewish state in theLand of Israel, which in the future will become the state of the Jewish people. This isbased on what Herzl said: “In Basel I founded the Jewish state.”
4The key word in this definition is “state,” and its natural location is the Land of Israelbecause of the Jewish people‟s historical link to it. Thus my grandfather‟s grandfather,for example, who came to the Land of Israel from Thessaloniki in the mid-19th century,cannot be considered a Zionist. He came to settle in the Land of Israel, not to establisha state here. This is also the rule for the ancestors of Neturei Karta and other Hasidicgroups that came to the Land of Israel as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries, andwho remain loyal to it. Not only were these Jews not interested in establishing a Jewishstate, but they include some who saw − and still see − the State of Israel as anabomination and a desecration of God‟s name.A Zionist, therefore, is a Jew who supported the establishment of a Jewish state in theLand of Israel, and not necessarily one who actually settled in the land. Herzl himselfand many Zionist leaders never settled in the land, yet you wouldn‟t hesitate to call themZionists. Even today, the members of Zionist federations worldwide are consideredZionists by us and by themselves, even though they don‟t live in Israel.Anyone who believes that only a person who lives in Israel can be a Zionist isessentially saying that today, there are no Zionists outside the State of Israel, and that‟snot the case. And what about those born in the Land of Israel − are they consideredZionists based on their place of birth alone?A Zionist is a person who wanted or supported the establishment of a Jewish state inthe Land of Israel. What kind of state? Well, every Zionist had his own vision and hisown plan.Zionism is not an ideology. If the definition of ideology, according to the HebrewEncyclopedia, is as follows − “A cohesive, systematic combination of ideas, insights,principles and imperatives that finds expression in the particular worldview of a sect, aparty or a social class” − then Zionism cannot be considered an ideology, but merely avery broad platform for various ideologies that may even contradict one another.Ever since the State of Israel was founded in 1948, the definition of “Zionist” has beenrevised, since we don‟t need to establish another state. Therefore, its definition is asfollows: A Zionist is a person who accepts the principle that the State of Israel doesn‟tbelong solely to its citizens, but to the entire Jewish people. The practical expression ofthis commitment is the Law of Return.The state‟s affairs are indeed managed solely by its citizens − people who have anIsraeli identity card, of whom 80 percent are Jews, while 20 percent are IsraeliPalestinians and others. But only a person who supports and affirms the Law of Returnis a Zionist, and anyone who rejects the Law of Return is not a Zionist.-- ) are still good citizens whoare loyal to the State of Israel, and retain all their civil rights.From this it emerges that all the big ideological, political, security and social questionsover which we do battle day and night have nothing to do with Zionism. They are similar
5to the questions that many other peoples, past and present, have had to struggle with,and still struggle with.Moreover, Zionism is not a word that‟s meant to replace patriotism, pioneering,humaneness or love of one‟s homeland, concepts that are found in other languages aswell. Hebrew is rich enough to endow every position or action with the appropriate word.An Israel Defense Forces officer who serves in the standing army for many years afterhis compulsory service, for example, is no greater Zionist than the kiosk owner ekingout a livelihood, though we would certainly see him as a greater patriot. A person whovolunteers to help needy children is no more a Zionist than a stockbroker, although hemay be a greater humanitarian.To be a Zionist is not a badge of honor, or a medal a person wears on his chest. Medalsare connected to actions, not to support of the Law of Return.Nor is there any connection between the size of the country and Zionism. If the Arabshad accepted the partition plan in 1947, the State of Israel within the partition borderswould have been just as Zionist as it is within different borders.If the State of Israel had conquered and annexed the east bank of the Jordan andrepealed the Law of Return, it would have ceased being Zionist even though it would bethree or four times the size. The state was Zionist when it controlled the Gaza Strip, andit was just as Zionist after it withdrew from it. Many countries have seen changes in thesize of their sovereign territory, but their core identities remained intact.With regard to the Law of Return, which some see as discriminating against Israel‟sPalestinian citizens, this is the answer: The Law of Return is essentially the moralcondition set by the countries of the world for the establishment of the State of Israel.The United Nations‟ partition of Palestine-Eretz Israel in 1947 into a Jewish state and aPalestinian one was on condition that the Jewish state would not just be a state for the600,000 Jews that lived there at the time, but would instead be a state that couldresolve the distress of Jews all over the world, and would enable every Jew in the worldto consider it home. Would it be moral for the hundreds of thousands of Jews whoimmigrated to Israel on the basis of the Law of Return to shut the door they enteredthrough behind them?Moreover, it‟s almost certain that there will be a similar law in the Palestinian state that Ihope will be established, speedily and in our days. It would behoove that state tolegislate a law of return that would enable every exiled Palestinian to return to thePalestinian state and obtain asylum and citizenship.But neither the Israeli Law of Return, nor a similar law in the future Palestinian state,contradict general immigration laws that set specific entry criteria, as is customary inevery country of the world.Liberating the concept of Zionism from all the appendages and addenda that haveadhered to it would not only clarify the ideological and political arguments we haveamong ourselves, and thus prevent these disputes from being mythologized, but itwould also force critics abroad to clarify and focus their positions.
6True! This is only one man’s opinion and there has been considerable criticism from allover the political spectrum about Yehoshua’s definition. However, there is nothing in itthat I disagree with.ANGST & BLAME:Malte Lehming an editor at Der Tagesspeigel (and an old friend)in Berlin is one ofGermany’s most insightful journalists. Writing in DT (reprinted in TheLocal.de) he dealswith what the headline writer refers to as “Germany‟s Collective Blame Phobia” believethat he hits on a very sensitive inner point in the German psyche.Malte notes, “The Germans collectively made themselves so guilty for what happenedbetween 1933 and 1945 that theyve been trying to avoid being blamed for anything elseever since. They cant stand to leave any trace of their existence and are compelled tocalculate their choices decades in advance. Its a particular form of German angst thatwas long confused with a general fear of concrete catastrophes. But aversion to nuclearenergy, environmental destruction, global warming, war, contaminated food, and evenhaving children are all based on the same fearful foundation: How do I avoidcontributing to calamity?There are countless examples of this über-eager German compulsion to take thecollective blame for some misery somewhere.We can undoubtedly construct chains of causality between our own actions and greatercalamities, however, this can quickly damn us to indecision and impotenceMaybe we Germans are tripping up ourselves with our constant paranoid assessment ofthe consequences of our actionsLiving life leaves a mark. Living also causes unforeseeable consequences. In the end,living requires the courage to make decisions even when the upshot isnt yet clear.I have the feeling that some of my American readers will not be upset over the fact thatGermans (if Malte is correct) have this built in anxiety factor which will keep them fromrepeating the crimes of the 1930’s and 1940’s. I myself would not want them to radicallychange but they should at least come to terms with their inner self. The major reactionto the Holocaust and the other Nazi crimes, as I see it, is pacifism. I don’t look on thatas bad. However, as a major power in Europe,Germany does have responsibilities thatrequire them to act assertively on occasion. To be overcome by guilt and angst, and tohide behind that, is to hide from those responsibilities. I believe that strong connectionsto NATO and the EU preclude a 20thCentury repeat.By the way, if anyone still has any doubts about Germany’s nationalist and
7expansionistambitions they can pretty much put them to rest. A recent DW articlereports that Germany’s military is headed for an army (Bundeswehr) of 180,000soldiers. Not a great number.The article notes, “The Bundeswehr wants to be able to send out some 10,000 troops inup to two concurrent missions. In addition to that there are to be troops ready for rapidintervention missions led by NATO or the EU. For those goals, some 50,000 soldierswould be needed.Peace activists criticize the overhaul of the troops as they see it as a move away from adefensive to an intervention army. For de Maiziere [Ed. Note: Defense Minister] thisthough is unjustified criticism as its more about better international cooperation. Barringchanges to the national security situation, the Bundeswehr restructuring is to becompleted by 2017.THE CLAIMS CONFERENCE: A CALL FOR MORALRESPONSIBILITYIn the last edition of DuBow Digest I reported on the fraud convictions of many of theemployees and fund recipients that bilked the Conference on Jewish Material ClaimsAgainst Germanyout of many millions of dollars. These were funds for Holocaustsurvivors.At that time I referred to the matter as a Jewish disgrace and promised that I wouldkeep you up to date. Since then The Forward, America’s leading English languageJewish newspaper has a strong editorial with which, frankly, I agree totally.In their editorial they point out that the Claims Conference leadership, some still inoffice, have to bare considerable responsibility for what happened since they had beenwarned about it eight years before the fraud was revealed to the FBI and then thepublic. They call for a thorough investigation and a reorganization of the ClaimsConference.The Forward concludes their editorial by saying, “The Forward‟s agenda, rather, is topromote transparency and accountability. The federal probe and the resultingconvictions have, as far as we know, put an end to the fraud, but not to the underlyinggovernance issues that allowed the fraud to continue for eight years after it was flagged.As Berman [Ed. Note: Julius Berman, chairman of the Claims Conference board]himself said to JTA last year, “We would never be able to recover from someonecharging that we tried to cover it up.” Indeed, he and the others in leadership haveamoral responsibility to prove that has not happened and would not happen.Whether anything will happen as a result of the editorial and the public outcry over thismatter remains to be seen. In any case you should read the entire The Forward piecewhich you can do by clicking here.http://forward.com/articles/177193/a-moral-responsibility/
8A later article should also be read. Click here.http://www.jta.org/2013/05/23/news-opinion/world/after-botched-probe-claims-conference-chairman-julius-berman-addresses-accountability?utm_source=Newsletter+subscribers&utm_campaign=1af69905d2-JTA_Daily_Briefing_5_22_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2dce5bc6f8-1af69905d2-25329937THE NEW MIDDLE EAST: A FASCINATING ANALYSISOccasionally, while reading websites (I go through more than a dozen each day) I comeacross an article that is so chock full of information and interesting analysis that I find itdifficult to boil down so that I can include it in this digest. Such an article is Palestine,Peoples and Borders in the New Middle East Mapby Ahmad Samih Khalidi who iscurrently Senior Associate Member of St Antony’s College, Oxford and editor-in-chief ofthe Journal of Palestine Studies (Arabic edition) published by the Institute for PalestineStudies (Beirut). Khalidi served as advisor to the Palestinian delegation at theMadrid/Washington peace talks in 1991-1993 and as senior advisor on security to theCairo-Taba PLO-Israeli talks in 1993. The article appeared on The Middle East CentreBlog of The London School of Economics and Political Science.The Khalidi article deals with a lot more than just the Israel – Palestinian matter. Hemakes the point very well that this long simmering dispute must be seen as only a partof the massive changes the entire Middle East is going through. He sees the Sunni –Shiite differences of much greater import.Below I will give you only a few paragraphs of material that deal with Israel and thePalestinians. At the end I will include a link to the entire article which, if you have anyinterest in the Middle East at all, you should read in its entirety.Amidst the faint flutterings of peace and the concurrent rumblings of war, a new MiddleEast geo-political map is taking shape that is more complex, contradictory,unpredictable and dangerous than at any time over the last hundred years of unfoldingregional drama.More than half a dozen simultaneous conflicts (16 by my count) jostle with each other;un-resolved (perhaps un-resolvable), interconnected and overlapping; one threadleading into another to weave a giant regional tapestry of uncertainty and contradiction;from the tribal fissures of North Africa, to the youthful demands for democratic change;from the inter-Islamist dispute over governance, to the Gulf monarchies‟ aspirations toregional dominance; from long-festering urban/rural frustrations to the stirrings of a newCold war.Somewhere in all this, of course, the familiar Israel/Palestinian conflict seethes andsuppurates. In fact, it is today the object of renewed efforts to find a negotiated
9settlement propelled by the energetic drive of US Secretary of State John Kerry thatmay yet yield some tender fruit. But it would be difficult for even the most Palestino-Israeli-centric observer to pretend that this conflict, despite its profound historicalsignificance, is the most salient or visible of all the frictions and tensions now coursingacross the region.The truth (I would say, sad truth) is that amongst the multiple collisions that mark thecurrent Middle East scene, the most significant divide draws on the deep-rootedhistorical animus between Muslim Sunni and Shiite.Meanwhile, Israel has taken on a new role as the indirect spearhead of the Sunni Arabs‟attempt to break the back of the „Shiite Crescent‟ by forcefully quashing Iran‟s nuclearambitions if need be („severing the snake‟s head‟ as eloquently put by Saudi KingAbdullah), and by threatening to finish off Hizbollah should it intervene on Tehran‟sbehalf, or attempt to reinforce its own deterrent force via the redeployment of Assad‟sarsenal.Where, you may ask, is Palestine in all this? I have already briefly alluded to the Gazasecession and will elaborate some more here. Ever since its 2007 putsch (or pre-emptive counter putsch depending from which perspective you may choose to see it)Hamas in Gaza has been systematically building the basis of its Islamist-inspiredauthority, all mutually pious and insincere words about national reconciliation with thePA/PLO in Ramallah notwithstanding. As Hamas has consolidated its rule anddeveloped its system of governance and web of external relations, there are almost noforeseeable circumstances in which it is going to relinquish its control of the Strip infavour of the PA/PLO in Ramallah – or vice versa, for that matter. In short, the chancesof a single Palestinian umbrella, unified polity or political entity are fading with eachpassing day.The consequences of this have not been sufficiently addressed; but they are of massiveimport because they alter the whole shape and contour of the Palestinian nationalproject. If Gaza is subtracted from the West Bank, then the entire concept of aPalestinian state, its demographic weight and population, its access to theMediterranean Sea, its borders – everything -changes; including the very terms of atwo-state solution as they have been established ever since the mid-seventies. Asystemic and irreversible secession in Gaza means that the remaining area of disputebetween Israel and Palestinians is fundamentally that of the West Bank – with or withoutJerusalem. And with this, the influence of Jordan‟s gravitational pull on its „Bank‟ getsstronger, as does Egypt‟s influence on Gaza. Any way you look at it, the fact remainsthat Palestine‟s borders may have now become more elastic and problematic than atany time in the past, not just in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli concept of boundariesand where if at all to draw the line between Arab and Jew, but in terms of thePalestinian‟s own internal boundaries as well.If Prof. Khalidi is even close to correct one might understand the reluctance on bothparties to the Israel-Palestinian dispute to seek out any sort of a two-State solution atthis moment in history. There are just too many moveable possibilities. Any agreed
10upon boundaries might prove to be only temporary. At the moment and in theforeseeable future anyway, standing pat seems to be the most reasonable course topursue.Let me end my personal comments by saying that I do not necessarily agree with all ofDr. Khalidi’s analysis or projections. Much of what he has to say is opinion. However,it’s informed opinion and like everybody, he has a point of view. In any case, I think youshould read the article. Let me know (email@example.com) what you think of it.You can read it by clicking here.http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mec/2013/05/30/palestine-peoples-and-borders-in-the-new-middle-east-map/LATRUNNever heard of it? I’m not surprised. It is a valley area and a hilltop that overlook themain road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. One might say that it is the main lifeline ofIsrael as it connects the two most important segments of the nation.When the 1948 War (War of Independence) ended Jordanian troops had control of thehilltop which was used to shell any movement along the road. The Israelis, in order tokeep things moving, built a second difficult and winding road which was in operationuntil the 1967 War. During the conflict the Israelis took the hilltop, pushed theJordanians out, eventually bulldozed the three Arab villages that were nearby and re-opened the road. The hilltop, referred to as the Latrun Salient, has been in Israeli handsever since.To even remotely think that in any peace agreement the Israelis and Palestinians mightsign would include an agreement to return Latrun to the Palestinians is simply andunavoidably out of the question. The Palestinians know that, the Israelis know that andanyone who has any interest in peace in the area should know that as well.After many years of saying nothing, (Jerusalem Post), “In recent days the PalestineLiberation Organization‟s Negotiations Affairs Department, the one headed by SaebErekat, launched a campaign under the headline “The Latrun Valley – an Integral Partof the State of Palestine.”A document circulated by the negotiations department described the Latrun Valley ascovering a 50-km. area close to the Green Line.“As a result of the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe),” the document read, “when two-thirds ofthe Palestinian population were forcibly exiled from their homes by Zionist militias priorto the creation of the State of Israel, almost half of the valley is now considered NoMan‟s Land (NML) an integral part of the Occupied State of Palestine.”However, all of a sudden, after many years (The Jerusalem Post), “The Latrun Valley, the document continued, “is well known for its rich water resourcesand fertile land. ”According to the paper, Israel occupied the area during the Six Day
11War and “ethnically cleansed” three villages left standing after 1948, before completelywiping them off the map as well.The paper said that following the forced displacement of the Palestinian inhabitants, theJewish National Fund, in cooperation with Canada, built Canada Park “over the site ofthe villages.”“Preventing Palestinians from making use of the Latrun area is part of Israel‟ssystematic attempt to turn the occupation of Palestinian land into annexation,” thedocument read.“The Latrun Valley holds enormous potential for Palestinians, including its fertile lands,water resources, archeological sites and religious shrines. It is a vital and integral part ofthe State of Palestine as defined by the 1967 border.”One Israeli official was stunned by the Palestinian campaign over Latrun, saying it wasas if the Palestinians were moving the goal line backwards.Referring to US Secretary of State John Kerry‟s push to restart Israeli-Palestiniannegotiations, the official said, “It‟s almost as if every time we move forward, or everytime there is a prospect of moving forward, the Palestinians bring up an issue whichthey know is a game breaker.”The Palestinian decision to make this an issue, the official continued, “raises concernsas to their seriousness.”All peace plans have always put Latrun inside Israel, the official said.“No Israeli government, no Israeli prime minister, can seriously entertain that this areawould be going to the Palestinians.Even if you think it is only the Israelis that are reluctant to come to the peace table, Ibelieve that in all fairness you have to say that the Palestinians are digging up all sortsof reasons to stay away as well.In addition, if you think Dr. Khaladi in the above article is correct when he says, “. Anyway you look at it, the fact remains that Palestine‟s borders may have now becomemore elastic and problematic than at any time in the past, not just in terms of thePalestinian-Israeli concept of boundaries and where if at all to draw the line betweenArab and Jew, but in terms of the Palestinian‟s own internal boundaries as well.” thenyou must conclude (as I do) that this is just not the time for the “two state solution” totake place.HOLOCAUST MEMORIALS: AMERICAN STYLEAs one travels throughout Germany it is hard to go almost anywhere and not run intoHolocaust memorials of some sort. Everywhere there are plaques commemorating lost
12Jewish communities, rebuilt synagogues (frequently in towns that have very few or noJews at present), and re-established Jewish cemeteries – all memorializing theHolocaust.Germany is not the only place where Holocaust memory has had a lasting presence.There are, of course, memorials in other countries but the United States, though anocean away from where it all happened seems particularly impacted upon.JTA recently published an article with the headline “Nearly 70 years after liberation,Holocaust memorials continue to proliferate”It noted, “No earth was moved last month at the groundbreaking of one of the nation‟snewest Holocaust memorials.Instead, the gatherers stood silently, symbolic shovels in hand, on the immaculate lawnwhere the privately funded $400,000 monument will soon rise. A succession ofspeakers delivered somber homilies remembering one of the darkest chapters in humanhistory.The construction of a new Holocaust memorial is hardly unusual. But this was DesMoines, Iowa, home to a small Jewish community and an even smaller number ofsurvivors.Just 2,800 Jews live in the capital of the Hawkeye State, among them a rapidlydiminishing number of survivors… Yet local authorities, along with the JewishFederation of Greater Des Moines and Jewish philanthropists, nevertheless felt itimportant for the city to set aside prominent public space near the state capitol toremember the victims of Nazi persecution and their liberators.“As time went by and as the last survivors pass away, the study of the Holocaust in theschool districts began to wane and the Jewish community felt the memory of it neededto be perpetuated,” said Mark Finkelstein, the head of the federation.The Jews of Des Moines are hardly the first to push for such a project.Though precise numbers are difficult to come by, Holocaust studies experts saymuseums and monuments dedicated to the genocide have proliferated across theUnited States over the past two decades.Major American cities typically have at least one Holocaust memorial, but now manymidsized ones do too, like Richmond, Va., Charleston, S.C., and El Paso, Texas.Memorials are even found in relatively small cities, like Whitwell, Tenn., and PalmDesert, Calif. And more are in the works, including a recently approved monumentdesigned by architect Daniel Libeskind to be built on the statehouse grounds inColumbus, Ohio.“There are probably more than 300 Holocaust study centers and museums around thecountry, and the number of memorials would be hard to track down because of all thesmall ones,” said James Young, a professor of English and Judaic studies at the
13University of Massachusetts in Amherst and the author of a book about Holocaustremembrance.“Just in Manhattan, there are 80. Multiply that and you probably have thousands.”Young says the single most important factor driving the construction of Holocaustmemorials nearly 70 years after the war is the initiative of elderly survivors. With theyoungest of them nearing 80, survivors are eager to educate future generations abouttheir suffering and, in so doing, give meaning to their lives.“It doesn‟t take a big community,” Young said. “If someone is inspired to build amemorial site, it is possible to do so.”While I agree with Young that Holocaust survivors are frequently the driving forcebehind the building of the memorials, younger people, including non-Jews are oft timesinvolved as well. In American life the only other event that I can think of that gets thesame sort of attention is the Civil War. Perhaps there are others but the Holocaust,though not American in any way, certainly has burrowed into our nationalconsciousness and sub-conscious.There is more to the story which you can read by clicking here.http://www.jta.org/2013/06/11/news-opinion/united-states/nearly-70-years-after-liberation-holocaust-memorials-continue-to-proliferate************************************************************************************************See you again in July.DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted byclicking here.Both the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com