Du bow digest germany edition march 6, 2011


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Du bow digest germany edition march 6, 2011

  1. 1. GERMANY EDITIONMarch 6, 2011Dear Friends:A NOTE FROM YOUR EDITORWhat follows below is an opening article which I originally wrote for my AmericanEdition of DuBow Digest. Even though both editions, Germany & American, areon the Internet for all to read at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com , I almost alwaysopen each with a different paragraph of introduction and quickly go to writingabout what appears in various newspapers and journals. With what I see as aserious growing cleavage between Israel and Germany, I decided this time Iwould share my own feelings and thoughts about this vitally important subject. formy mostly American Jewish readersWhile thinking and writing, I further decided that there was no good reason why Ishould not share it with you as well, my mostly German & non-Jewish audience.So, what appears directly below is what I have been cogitating over…In my newsletters I try to maintain an upbeat, at times humorous, edge inreporting and commenting on situations that have no real humor in them. Inwriting what follows I find myself void of any jocular feelings. In fact, I am ratherdown in the mouth about what I see as a growing and serious disconnectbetween Germany and the State of Israel. Considering that Germany is Israel’smost important friend in Europe, it poses a very big problemIt actually began to be apparent about a year and a half ago when the EuropeanUnion decided to establish an all-Europe international relations section with aBritish subject, Lady Catherine Ashton as the EU High Representative forForeign Affairs and Security Policy. This new agency is enormously importantand will eventually have 13,000 people working in it. Since High RepresentativeAshton’s appointment she has been nothing but critical of Israel at every turn.Her Palestinian leanings are quite obvious. Warning lights went on.It became obvious to me that this new EU body would be a genuine voice onMiddle East policy. I raised questions with my German friends about Germany’sindependent foreign policy especially as it pertained to Israel. I didn’t get anysatisfactory answers. Some said an overall European policy was more importantthan a singular German one. I didn’t agree and still don’t.On top of that, in late 2010, the Bundestag passed a unanimous resolutioncondemning Israel over the Turkish flotilla to Gaza incident. I felt that if Germanywas unhappy with Israel’s actions there were many other sorts of diplomatic 1
  2. 2. moves (letters, statements, diplomatic meetings, etc.) they might have utilized.Instead they decided on a Bundestag resolution which was passed unanimously.Very strong medicine indeed!More recently, at the UN Security Council, Germany went along with 13 othernations condemning Israel’s settlement policy. It was left to the U.S. to veto theresolution. I’m sure they “voted their conscience” but in its support, Germany andthe others gave the Palestinians a sense of empowerment and feeling that theywill gain more through the UN process than in sitting down with the Israelis forface to face negotiations. It drove a stake right through the heart of a negotiatedsettlement at least for the foreseeable future.Even more recently, Haaretz and other journals carried a story about a heatedphone conversation between Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Netanyahu(see story below) wherein the Chancellor accused The P.M. saying, “You haventmade a single step to advance peace." It was leaked by a German source.These sorts of things don’t get leaked without a purpose.Whether that statement is true or not, the German vote at the Security Councilhelped torpedo any chance to “advance peace” any time soon.I’m not the only one who thinks that. Click here to read Richard Boudreaux’sarticle which also appeared in The Wall Street Journal. http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.israel/browse_thread/thread/ea8faf0183bdc0e9/caf0ed886098bc2a?lnk=raotA growing feeling among some German leaders is that, while claiming friendshipfor Israel, they are now free to say that Israel had better make peace (at anyprice?) before the chances of a two state solution are gone. Perhaps theylegitimately and honestly feel that way. Maybe they even have a point. However,are these increasingly open critical statements and actions helping themovement toward a peace settlement? I would argue in the negative.I hope that I am viewing things clearly. When I add up all the above and try tosee whether there is some guiding principle, it seems to me that Germany isslowly but surely cutting itself loose from Israel, at least from an Israelgovernment they do not like. Forget about the “special relationship”. Germanyhas learned to live with its history; they are handling it to the satisfaction of mostand now feel free to be critical of Israel when they see it in their own interest todo so. Anyone who expects a positive eternal political link between the twocountries is dreaming.I don’t think Germany is any kind of enemy. There are many facets of therelationship that are still excellent. Actually I believe there is a deep reservoir offriendship in the hearts of many Germans toward Israel and the Jews – includingthat of the Chancellor. However, I think the government leaders see their 2
  3. 3. national interests in the Middle East as being very different than those of Israel.Lord Palmerston, the 18th Century English statesman is quoted as saying,“Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanentinterests.” 325 million Arabs vs. 6 million Jewish Israelis (plus one third of theworld being Muslim), a sense that they are right about Israel’s intransigence andthe importance of oil supplies for Europe obviously trump the increasingly distantconnection to Israel and the Holocaust.However, let’s not go off the deep end. Germany is critically important to Israel. Itis the engine that drives the European Union and both are critical to Jewishinterests. There is still a great store of positive feeling in Germany toward Israel.We should try to build on it while explaining the difficult position Israel finds itselfin and the support that it needs from Germany and the EU. It would be suicidalfor us to turn our backs and burn our bridges.There are no easy fixes. However, increased dialogue focusing on Israel’svulnerable situation, its security needs, the efforts it has made and is nowmaking to affect a peace and the intransigence of the Palestinians should bestressed. American Jewry’s most important tool in this case is enlighteneddiscussion. We should not give up on that. Germany is too important!Those are my thoughts. I’d be very interested in your comments. Click here todirectly contact me via e-mail.IN THE REST OF THIS EDITIONPEACE IS FAR OFF – Perhaps further than in a very long time.INSECURITY – The Arab uprisings impact Israel.ARAB ANTI-SEMITISM – Even with peace, hate is bound to remain.QARADAWI – If he was popular in a country next door what would you think?A HEAVY PRICE TO PAY – Iran’s blackmailTHE LAW OF RETURN – The battle over who determines “Who is a Jew?” heatsup.ISRAEL: AN INSIDE LOOK – A political evaluation by a great evaluator.WE DIDN”T DO IT! – So sayeth the Pope. It’s official!PEACE IS FAR OFF 3
  4. 4. I want to add some thoughts about Middle East peace being quite far off. Again,I’m not the only one who thinks that. Amy Teibel of the Associated Press writingin The Washington Post writes, “Israel has concluded that a final peace deal withthe Palestinians cannot be reached at this time and is weighing alternatives to tryto prove that it is interested in keeping peacemaking with the Palestinians alive”Privately, officials say Netanyahu is considering a phased approach topeacemaking, but contrary to published reports, it is not clear if he is open to theconcept of a Palestinian state within temporary borders.Without even waiting for Netanyahu’s thoughts to jell, the PA announced that aninterim agreement would not be acceptablehttp://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=210513As I said above, the Palestinians are headed to the UN no matter what, hopingthat the wave of changes in the Middle East will rub off on them and thatsomehow they will accomplish their goals without direct negotiations. Maybethey’re right – but I doubt it.INSECURITYWhen a major political upheaval such as the one taking place in the Middle Eastcurrently erupts, it affects a wide range of nations in and out of the region. Therelationships which nations have with their neighbors such as militaryagreements, economic connections and, generally, almost everything else are upin the air waiting for the dust to settle. Governments, if they’re sensible, bide theirtime and wait to see what sort of a new world emerges.No country, outside of those actually being battled over, is expecting hugechanges more than Israel. Will democratization (if that is the final result) be goodor bad for Israel? One thing is for sure – anxiety and insecurity are bound to reignin both Israel itself and the American Jewish community for quite a while. .I am not enough of a political seer to even begin to lay out the possibilities.However, an excellent article by New York Times political writer Steven Erlangertakes a first stab at it. He writes, “The old certainties of the Middle East havebeen upended, and Israel finds many of its most reliable partners buffeted orblown away by popular agitation from below. Egypt was long one of Israel’s mostimportant allies, and ties were quietly close to Tunisia. With demonstrations forchange also in Jordan, Bahrain and Morocco, Israel finds itself floundering.Rather than trying to summarize Mr. Erlanger’s findings, I think you owe it toyourself if you have any interest at all in the subject, to read his article. You willnot have wasted your time. 4
  5. 5. Click here to read it.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/world/middleeast/24arabs.html?_r=2&hpwARAB ANTI-SEMITISMIf by some stroke of good fortune or Devine intervention peace should come tothe Israel-Palestinian dispute, what kinds of thoughts would Palestinians haveabout their Israeli neighbors or, on a wider scale, all Jews through out the world?Given the history of turbulence and war during the last 100 years or so, theywould certainly not be on the positive side.Richard Cohen, writing in the Washington Post notes, “During World War II, theleader of the Palestinians lived in a Berlin villa, a gift from a very grateful AdolfHitler, who clearly got his moneys worth. Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand muftiof Jerusalem and as such the titular leader of Muslim Palestinians, broadcastNazi propaganda to the Middle East, recruited European Muslims for the SS,exulted in the Holocaust and after the war went on to represent his people in theArab League. He died somewhat ignored but never repudiated.Husseini might have been a Nazi to his very soul, but he was also a Palestiniannationalist with genuine support among his own people. The Allies originallyconsidered him a war criminal, but to many Arabs, he was just a patriot. Hisexterminationist anti-Semitism was considered neither overly repugnant nor allthat exceptional. The Arab world is saturated by Jew-hatred.Some of this hatred was planted by Husseini and some of it long existed, butwhatever the case, it remains a remarkable, if unremarked, feature of Arabnationalism. The other day, for instance, about 1 million Egyptians in TahrirSquare heard from Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an esteemed religious leader andMuslim Brotherhood figure whose anti-Semitic credentials are unimpeachable.Among other things, he has said that Hitler was sent by Allah as "divinepunishment" for the Jews. His al-Jazeera program is one of that TV networksmost popular.I have read the assurances of scholars and journalists alike that the MuslimBrotherhood has mutated into the Common Cause of Egypt (Jordan, too) andthat its anti-Semitism is merely an odd and archaic quirk, like the anti-fluoridepositions of some American conservatives. I hope this is the case. But in truth, Iput more faith in the staying power of anti-Semitism than I do in the forecastinggifts of my colleagues. If they are right, wonderful. If not, we all have somethingto worry about.There are nearly no Jews in Arab lands - they were kicked out after Israel wasestablished in 1948. Nowhere in the Middle East is peace with Israel popular.Nowhere in the Middle East is anti-Semitism considered aberrant or weird. It is 5
  6. 6. inconceivable to me that Arab politicians will not attempt to harness bothsentiments, combining nationalism with anti-Semitism - a combustible andunstable compound. History instructs about what follows.Israeli leaders are well aware that they face a new reality in their region.Whatever regime arises in Egypt, it is likely to chill even further what is alreadycalled a cold peace. The same might hold for Jordan. King Abdullah is secure fornow - the Bedouin tribes need him to avoid chaos - but he, too, will have to listento popular sentiment.Consequently, now would be the propitious time for Israel to settle with thePalestinians. I am aware that resolution of the Palestinian issue will not satisfyanti-Semites or extreme Arab nationalists - Israel is not going to give up all ofJerusalem nor, for that matter, disappear - and both Hezbollah in Lebanon andHamas in Gaza have only been emboldened by recent events. Still, the creationof a Palestinian state - the lifting of all the onerous restrictions on Palestinianmovement - will take some air out of this particular balloon and, possibly,improve Israels deteriorating moral standing in Europe and elsewhere. This is nosmall matter.Israels critics have a case. Yet they make no case when it comes to Arab anti-Semitism. The prominence of Qaradawi cannot be reassuring to Israelis. Theyknow that words can be weapons and hate is a killer. Nonetheless, since thedays of Husseini, a true Hitlerian figure, Arab nations have shamefully beengranted an exception to the standards expected of the rest of the world, as if theywere children. If I were an Israeli, Id be worried. If I were an Arab, Id be insulted.If I were a critic only of Israel, Id be ashamed.Perhaps it’s only politics that stands in the way of an Israeli-Palestinian peace.However, when the hatred is religious then we have a situation that is muchharder to deal with. Granted, most Jewish Israelis do not have very positivefeelings about their Arab neighbors. But that is caused by politics and war.Whatever hate exists is not religion based. Arab anti-Semitism which is wrappedin their most basic belief system is not so easily dealt with. It takes generationsfor it to exorcised.Yes, “…now would be the propitious time for Israel to settle with thePalestinians.” But…Sorry Richard! Peace is not just around the corner.QARADAWII don’t want to dwell too long on Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi but I think a little moreinformation on this tremendously important anti-Israel and anti-Semitic religiousleader is called for to explain what we’re up against 6
  7. 7. Granted, what I will quote below comes from an Israeli source. However, the MeirAmit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center is reputable and its researchis certainly open if anybody wants to dispute it.Among other beliefs Qaradawi “opposes Al-Qaida and its methods, heenthusiastically supports Palestinian terrorism, including suicide bombing attackstargeting the civilian Israeli population. In the past he also supported “resistance”(i.e., terrorism) to the occupation of Iraq. He issued fatwas calling for jihadagainst Israel and the Jews, and authorizing suicide bombing attacks even if thevictims were women and children. He regards all of “Palestine” as Muslimterritory (according to Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas ideology), stronglyopposes the existence of the State of Israel and rejects the peace treaties signedwith it, and opposes the Palestinian Authority. (In the past, he called for thestoning of Mahmoud Abbas.)With so many Arabs being open and accepting of this sort of rhetoric, what kindof peace is possible? I believe, as I’ve said many times, the best we can hope foris an agreement of “no war”. If that could be achieved, it would be a great stepforward. Peace? I think it’s generations in the future. Read the Qaradawi story byclicking here.http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=210424A HEAVY PRICE TO PAYThe trip that Foreign Minister Westerwelle made to Iran to get the two reportersback to Germany required paying a heavy price. While those that know howthese sorts of things work in the world of “realpolitik”, it certainly gave off thewrong sort of a message as far as what Germany’s relationship with Iran isadvertised to be. One recognizes blackmail when one sees it. One alsorecognizes the weakness of the paying of the ransom – especially by a nationthat is supposed to strong and independent. It’s certainly not the first time it hashappened but that certainly doesn’t make it any better. 7
  8. 8. The picture of Westerwelle and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad atthe “official” meeting looked like a get-together of old friends. My BerlinAJC colleague, Deidre Berger wrote on Feb. 21, “In the dramatic sweep ofevents in the Mideast the past few weeks, little attention has been focused onIran. Yet two photos dominated the front pages of German newspapers this pastweekend. One showed Guido Westerwelle, Germany’s Foreign Minister, shakinghands with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; the second showed castmembers of the Iranian film Nader and Simin, A Separation, accepting theGolden Bear award of the Berlinale Film Festival.These images could easily create the impression that Iran is making giant leapstoward acceptance in the democratic world. On the political front, Iran’s presidentwas able to greet a high-level German official for the first time in seven years,while culturally, a film produced in Iran swept the top honors at one of the world’sleading film festivals.These two events seem to sanitize Iran and give the impression that freedom ofexpression is growing there. (Berger) In 2010, Reporters without Borders’country ratings for freedom of speech listed Iran as 172nd out of 175 countries.Those who transgress the bizarre ideological code imposed on Iranian societysuffer severe consequences, ranging from a ban on work to imprisonment andtorture.She concludes by saying, “As the democratic surge sweeps the region, this issurely the time to increase pressure on the bellicose Iranian regime and stop thehypocrisy of trading and negotiating with a country that eschews civil and humanrights and threatens its neighbors.Here is an historic opportunity to stand up to a regime that is fundamentally anti-democratic, anti-Western, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic.”I think you owe it to yourself to read the entire piece written by a person whoknows and appreciates Germany but also see the pitfalls faced by not focusingon the truth about Iran. You can read it by clicking here.http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=1531915&ct=9134787THE LAW OF RETURNIsrael, the traditional home of the Jewish people, allows all Jews, under its Law ofReturn citizenship in the State. In deciding who should be allowed citizenship anon-going question, actually it’s two questions, presents itself. First, who is aJew?, and, secondly, who is a rabbi? 8
  9. 9. Under Orthodox law (Halacha) to be a Jew one is either the child of a Jewishmother (matrilineal descent) or one who has converted to Judaism. In Israel andother countries that adhere to Halachic law, there is no argument about the firstcategory. However, one must document and prove that one’s mother is/wasJewish. When I applied for membership in the Berlin Jewish community, I had toproduce a letter from the rabbi who officiated at my mother’s funeral attesting tothe fact that she was, indeed, Jewish. Jews emigrating from the former SovietUnion have a much greater problem in securing “legal’ proof.It is the second category, the one that deals with converts, where most of theproblems arise. There are questions about the authenticity even of Orthodoxconversions outside Israel. Recently, according to JTA, “Dozens of NorthAmerican Orthodox rabbis protested to Israels Interior Ministry following reportsthat Diaspora converts under Orthodox auspices are being denied the right toimmigrate.The Chief Rabbinate has become the defacto central body in determining thevalidity of Orthodox conversions, and it only recognizes about 20 religious courtsin North America, mostly affiliated with the Rabbinical Council of America.Conservative and Reform converts are certified as Jewish by the central bodiesof their respective movements.In response to the letter, the plenary of the Jewish Agencys Board of Governorsadopted a resolution brought by the Unity of the Jewish People Committeecalling on the Israeli government to confirm the Jewish Agencys role indetermining the eligibility of new immigrants.The resolution passed Tuesday on the last day of the Jewish Agency Board ofGovernors meeting in Jerusalem and was initiated by Chairman NatanSharansky, who told the board that Israels Chief Rabbinate should not beinvolved in determining who can be allowed to immigrate to Israel."I want to separate the argument about conversion from the recognition ofJudaism for the sake of citizenship-eligibility under the Law of Return,"Sharansky told Haaretz. "It’s so important that a person who undergoesconversion according to the tradition of his community and who the communityaccepts as a Jew be eligible to make aliyah under the Law of Return."Needless to say, the Jewish Agency which oversees immigration desperatelywants a more liberal point of view to rule so as to maximize the inflow Jewscoming into Israel. The Orthodox rabbinate wants to hold on to control andcertainly not give up any power to even Orthodox rabbis from the outside.So the battle goes on. The argument between Jewish purity and the need forincreased Jewish population will not be decided any time soon. 9
  10. 10. Jews do not need outside non-Jewish opponents to satisfy their need to bedisputatious. We’ve got enough of that sort of thing internally.ISRAEL: AN INSIDE LOOKSince I mentioned disputatiousness just above, there is no arena worldwide thathas more of it (short of civil war) than the Israeli government. Like many otherparliamentary governments the Israel parliament, the Knesset, is made up of acoalition of political parties. In Israel’s case, however, there seems to be greaterbattles within the coalition than on the outside with its opposition.My AJC colleague in Israel, Ed Rettig, who I consider a political analyst parexcellence, has written an incisive piece for AJC about the inside strugglesbetween and among the leading political leaders in the nation.Ed concludes his short, but very interesting piece by saying, “The most stablecomponent of the coalition seems to Prime Minister Netanyahu himself. As histwo strongest coalition partners face potentially career-ending challenges, thetest Netanyahu faces is to strengthen his hold on the coalition, giving him thetime and the clout to determine the still unclear legacy his second governmentwill leave behind.With that, I promise you a very interesting minute or so if you click on the articleand read it. You understand more about Israel politics than you did before andsee Jewish disputatiousness at its height. Click here.http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=2818289&ct=9143357&notoc=1WE DIDN’T DO IT!The Haaretz headline (in large black letters) noted, “Pope exonerates Jews fordeath of Jesus” followed by “Benedict XVIs theological analysis contradictstraditional Catholic interpretations which have been used throughout history tojustify anti-Semitism.”I thought the question was previously settled in 1965 by Nostra Aetate, which, asRabbi David Rosen of AJC said,” (it) revolutionized the Catholic Churchsrelations with Jews by saying Christs death could not be attributed to Jews as awhole at the time or today”.Perhaps in some minds there still remained a question. In Jesus of Nazarethexcerpts released Wednesday, Benedict uses a biblical and theological analysisto explain why it is not true that the Jewish people as a whole were responsiblefor Jesus death. 10
  11. 11. Frankly, speaking for myself, I never felt any personal guilt for the death of Jesus.If there was any guilt to be felt surrounding the question I always thought thatthose using the canard of Jewish responsibility as a reason for violence or killingshould be the ones to bear that weight.There is no question that the Pope should be congratulated for making histhoughts crystal clear. For that he is entitled to “Three cheers”. .********************************************************************************************See you again in late MarchDuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contactedby clicking here.Both the American and Germany editions are posted atwww.dubowdigest.typepad.comClick here to connect 11