Du bow digest germany edition september 27, 2011


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Du bow digest germany edition september 27, 2011

  1. 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.netGERMANY EDITIONSeptember 27, 2011Dear Friends:The annual UN General Assembly meeting is mostly over and much of the AmericanJewish community is glad to see it come to a close. What looked to be a verytroublesome affair for Israel ended more in a whimper than in a shout. The Durban 3anti-Israel conference somehow came and went with practically nobody knowing ittook place. No publicity, very little international interest and no impact. Perhaps eventhe UN representatives are getting tired of listening to the predictable anti-Israel andanti-Semitic ranting and raving.Of course, the Palestinian statehood issue was front and center but it did not (andwill not) change anything on the ground. No direct talks, no progress. It’s as simpleas that. American Jews were very pleased and relieved that their own President tooksuch a strong stand favoring the Israeli position on face to face negotiations.The Jewish community now moves into its New Year season (see below) whichalways brings forth a feeling of renewal and hope for the future.So, to all my Jewish and non-Jewish friends my best wishes for a wonderful, happyand healthy next 12 months.On to the news…IN THIS EDITIONTHE HIGH HOLY DAYS – The Jewish New Year is upon us.THE UNITED NATIONS, ISRAEL: & THE JEWS – My “take” on what happened.AN ANTI-SEMITISM UPDATE – From the U.S. State Dept.THE DIPLOMATIC GAME: TWO CAN PLAY – Turkey, Greece & Israel 1
  2. 2. THE MIND OF AMERICAN JEWRY – The Annul AJC SurveyEVZ —TROUBLE! – An important fund is criticized.THE HIGH HOLY DAYSThe Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur indicate thebeginning of the Jewish New Year. It is the one time that many (most?) Jews make ita practice to go to synagogue and to be one with their fellow Jews.I don’t want to sound ethnocentric, but it seems to me that it makes more sense tohave the New Year begin at a time when people are starting out their every day livesfollowing the resting period of the summer. Those of us who work in non-profitorganizations always refer to September as the start of the “Program Year”. Januaryhas always appeared to me to come an inopportune time – right in the middle of thewinter. I doubt seriously that the world will change its calendar because I think itshould. However, Rosh Hashanah which means “head of the year” starts on theevening of Sept. 28th. If you live near a synagogue and see a crowd you’ll know whatit’s all about.The High Holidays or High Holy Days, in Judaism, more properly known as theYamim Noraim (Hebrew: ‫" ימים נוראים‬Days of Awe"), may mean: 1. strictly, the holidays of Rosh Hashanah ("Jewish New Year") and Yom Kippur ("Day of Atonement"); 2. by extension, the period of ten days including those holidays, known also as the Ten Days of Repentance (Aseret Yemei Teshuvah); or 3. by a further extension, the entire 40-day penitential period in the Jewish year from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur, traditionally taken to represent the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai before coming down with the second ("replacement") set of the Tablets of stone.Many prefer the term High Holy Days because it emphasizes the personal,reflective, introspective aspects of this period. No matter how you look at it, it’s animportant time for Jews around the world.THE UNITED NATIONS, ISRAEL: & THE JEWSI have been trying to think what I should put into this edition of DuBow Digest thathasn’t already been said and what might prove to be helpful in understanding whattook place during the recent UN meeting as well as what might happen as a result ofit.An enormous amount has already been reported in the general media and it seems 2
  3. 3. that anyone who is interested has his/her own opinion and has voiced it. In general,those more sympathetic to the Palestinians feel that the case for an independentPalestine was made forcefully by Pres. Abbas and that while a Security Council seatmay not be in the offering anytime soon, an upgraded status in the UN will resultmaking full membership a certainty sometime in the near future.Those that are more inclined to be supportive of Israel understand that thePalestinians may have gained some strength. However, the rock solid support of theU.S. plus, perhaps along with some of the EU countries, makes their positionstronger.Rather than to try to further outline the positions of each, let me share with you a fewmatters that, in my opinion, demand notice. First let me talk about ultimate goals.If there is one overriding goal in Israel it is to be recognized as a “Jewish state”, ahomeland for the Jewish people. Period! If that concept was accepted on the otherside, about 90% of all the trouble would disappear. More about that later.It is pretty clear to me that Israel wants to have defensible borders and not the ninemile wide border at its vulnerable middle which was the cease fire border after the1948 war. There is talk about the pre-1967 borders. Those are in reality the 1948borders. So, there is now talk about “land swaps”. Security for its citizens is aprimary question for all countries. Israel is no exception. International guaranteesmight be a part of a settlement but, no matter what, a country that is only nine mileswide at its center is vulnerable. Therefore, the middle has to be expanded. How?Settlements! There is no other way. Actually, those that must remain are not whatone would think of a “settlement” with tin shacks and tents. They are cities. Theyguard Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.There are some in Israel’s right wing that would like to have everything that they nowoccupy (post 1967) but realize that they would have to be an eternal occupying forcein order to incorporate all that. If they were to do so they would shortly have an Arabmajority in their country – something, of course, they do not want. Dealing with thesettlers might be a problem but that was done when the Israelis pulled out of Gaza.It would be a greater problem in the West Bank but certainly not impossible.In addition, Israel is not willing to take back Palestinian refugees. If there is any“return” in sight, it would be to one of the swapped pieces of land. A “return” would,again mean an Arab majority. It’s not reasonable and it’s not happening. Incidentally,what about the 250,000 Jewish refugees that were forced out of Arab countriesduring and after the 1948 war? They, of course, are not interested in “return”. Wouldthey be eligible for some kind of compensation?The third major issue regards the capital of a Palestinian state. I consider that theeasiest problem. Some sort of symbolic presence in Jerusalem could be worked out. 3
  4. 4. Of course, religious extremes on both sides would be unhappy but it doesn’t seem(to me) to be intractable.Now, let’s get down to the Palestinians. What are their ultimate goals? Obviously, aPalestinian homeland. They’re entitled to it and even P.M. Netanyahu said he wouldsupport it if the other matters could be worked out. Of course, there are currentproblems with it as their “land’ is divided into two parts (West Bank and Gaza) andthe fact that there are two governments. One (PLO) seems to be willing to, at least,talk (though not negotiate) with Israel. The other (Hamas) is openly dedicated toerasing Israel from the face of the earth. It is very difficult to negotiate with peoplewho are looking to kill you.The “land” problem, I believe, is the greatest sticking point. If a homeland for theJewish people exists on even one inch of what Palestinians consider holy territory isa deal breaker, then what is there to negotiate about?All the rest seem to me to be internal Palestinian problems. If a geographicalagreement could be reached, the capital, the refugees, the economy, would have tobe solved internally. Obviously not easy – but certainly possible. The differing politicsof the two major groups would have to be worked out as well, hopefully without acivil war.Where do we stand now that the UN speeches are done with and an upgradedstatus for the Palestinians is probably going to happen somewhere down the road?The answer is that we’re pretty much back to where we started from.However, there are a few changes.Foremost is the fact that Pres. Obama has come out clearly against a SecurityCouncil seat for the Palestinians without direct negotiations. No matter what thereason, the threatened veto in the Security Council has significantly reduced Israeliand Jewish anxiety. The idea of Israel being practically alone in the world is veryfrightening to both Israelis and American Jews. We went through that in the 1930’s &1940’s.Secondly, both the Four Power Agreement (rejected by Abbas so far) and astatement of the Spanish Foreign Minister referring to a “Jewish Homeland” werevery encouraging. Spain has been close to the Arabs so her statement was seen asa step in the right direction. Read about it by clicking here.http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/spain-recognizes-israel-as-jewish-homeland-for-first-time-1.386587 As of this writing it appears that Israel is willing toaccept the agreement as long as there are no pre-conditions.It was very disappointing that Pres. Abbas in a speech to Palestinian supporters inthe U.S. said, "They talk to us about the Jewish state, but I respond to them with afinal answer: We shall not recognize a Jewish state”. I hope that’s just political talk, 4
  5. 5. however, Arafat frequently said one thing to Arab audiences and another to thegeneral public. I hope Pres. Abbas doesn’t suffer from the same illness – splittongue.I am always hopeful and, believe it or not, I have great faith in human nature.However, I think we are still very far off from any sort of a peaceful solution to theIsraeli – Palestinian problem. I have said before and still believe that the best thingthat can be accomplished is a situation of what I call “no war”. As long as peoplearen’t killing each other there is always a chance that those involved might come tosome kind of an agreement. Let’s hope!AN ANTI-SEMITISM UPDATEAccording to the 13th Annual U.S. State Dept. Report on International ReligiousFreedom, “Anti-Semitism can be found in nearly every corner of the globe, and it ison the rise.” The State Department is required to report regularly to Congress by theInternational Religious Freedom Act of 1998; this edition covers the last half of 2010."Trends include increases in the traditional anti-Semitic actions and accusations thathave plagued the world for millennia--including desecration of cemeteries, graffiti,and blood libel accusations--as well as Holocaust denial, revisionism, andglorification," it found. Some is part of the campaign to delegitimize and demonizeIsrael.”According to The Jewish Week, “If found "spikes in anti-Semitic expressions" inprivate as well as official media, notably including cartoons, in several countries,including Poland, Spain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. In Saudi Arabia, where "The public practice of any religion other than Islam isprohibited" it reported "school textbooks continue to contain offensive statementsabout Jews and Christians." And its not just inside the kingdom but also in schools itsupports abroad:In the United Kingdom, media reported in 2010 that some part-time weekendschools and clubs taught approximately 5,000 pupils the official Saudi nationalcurriculum, which contains anti-Semitic views, including an Arabic-languagetextbook that asks children to list the "reprehensible" qualities of Jews. In reaction tothe reports, the British education minister rejected the use of anti-Semitic material inBritish schools.Another alarming development was the growing occurrence of anti-Semiticexpressions in official and government-affiliated media in Venezuela. It appearslinked to Hugo Chavezs increasing hostility toward Israel as he solidifies hisalliances with Iran and Turkey.” 5
  6. 6. Why should anybody be surprised that the virus of anti-Semitism is found in allcorners of the world and is rising? With all that is going on in the Middle East,especially the criticism of Israel regarding the Palestinian unilateral declaration ofindependence, the linkage to all Jews in a negative way is a natural outgrowth.Repeating myself, anti-Semitism is like tuberculosis. It can be arrested butseemingly never totally done away with. Unhappily, it lurks in the minds of manypeople and sits there waiting to surface especially these days when there is acriticism of Israel.Of course, Germany, as well as most countries, in spite of its many great attempts tostamp out the disease, is not without its share. You can read the State Dept.’s articleabout the Federal Republic by clicking herehttp://www.state.gov/documents/organization/171696.pdfIf for some reason you wish to see the entire report you can do so by clicking here.http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2010_5/index.htmTHE DIPLOMATIC GAME: TWO CAN PLAYIsrael did not wait long to react to Turkey’s practically, but not quite total severing ofdiplomatic relations over the Gaza flotilla affair.On Sept. 6th JTA reported, “Greece and Israel signed a security cooperationagreement amid declining Israeli relations with neighboring Turkey.Greek Defense Minister Panos Beglitis, making the first official visit by a Greekdefense minister to Israel, and his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak, signed acooperation memorandum on security in Jerusalem on Sunday during the first dayof Beglitis three-day trip."I come as my countrys defense minister to state our political will as a government,as well as the majority of the countrys political forces, for the two countries, the twogovernments, the two peoples, to work together so that we can further develop anddeepen our bilateral relations in all sectors of mutual interest and concern," Beglitissaid.The visit is part of a cooperation memorandum signed last year between PrimeMinister George Papandreou and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Last week a Greek Parliament committee approved the purchase from Israel ofRafael-made Spice 1000 and 2000 bomb precision upgrade kits at a cost of $155million for 400 systems.Israels ambassador to Greece, Arie Mekel, noted the "unprecedented number ofhigh-level visits" between Israel and Greece this year. He said the visit by Beglitis 6
  7. 7. "highlights again the dramatic upgrade of the relations between Greece and Israelfor the benefit of both countries."Beglitis clarified that his visit concerns bilateral relations with the State of Israelexclusively and is not functioning competitively with other countries in the region.Of course, Beglitis had to say that that the arrangement with Israel was “notcompetitive with other countries…” but it’s no secret that Greece and Turkey areanything but friends.The point here, of course, is that Israel has diplomatic moves it can make – and theyare making them. In addition, Turkey is relying on Israel for unmanned aircraftdrones to battle with the Kurds in both Turkey and Iraq. I guess they shouldn’t waitfor delivery.Obviously, diplomacy is a game that more than one party can play.THE MIND OF AMERICAN JEWRYThe AJC Annual Survey of American Jewry has just been published. Severalimportant findings were revealed. “Disappointment with President Obama’s handlingof the economy and U.S.-Israel relations has caused a falloff in Jewish support forthe administration, a just-completed national survey by AJC, a non-partisanadvocacy organization, shows:For the first time during Obama’s presidency, disapproval among Jewish votersexceeded approval of his performance. Jewish approval of Obama’s handling of hisjob as president declined to 45 percent, with another 48 percent disapproving and 7percent undecided, according to the survey, conducted from September 6 to 21,2011. In the last annual AJC survey, a year ago, 51 percent approved, and 44percent disapproved.2012 Presidential Election. Looking ahead to the 2012 presidential race, the AJCsurvey revealed that if the election were held today, Obama would still hold aconsiderable lead over potential Republican challengers among Jewish voters. Butthe margin differed significantly depending on which candidate the GOP fields.Mitt Romney would get 32 percent of the Jewish vote, according to the poll, againstObama’s 50 percent. Another 16 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t vote foreither of the two candidates, and 2 percent were undecided.Rick Perry would get 25 percent of the vote against Obama’s 55 percent, withanother 18 percent voting for neither, and 2 percent undecided.Michele Bachmann would receive 19 percent of the vote against Obama’s 59 7
  8. 8. percent, with 21 percent voting for neither, and 1 percent undecided.In 2008, Obama garnered 78 percent of the Jewish vote, compared to 22 percent forJohn McCain.Economy, National SecurityApproval of Obama’s handling of the economy dropped to 37 percent from 45percent a year ago and 55 percent in the spring of 2010. Disapproval of theadministration’s economic policies rose to 60 percent in the latest poll, up from 51percent a year ago.By contrast, on Obama’s handling of national security, 68 percent approve and 28percent disapprove in 2011, while 62 percent approved and 33 percent disapprovedin 2010.U.S.-Israel RelationsObama’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations received the approval of 40 percent, withanother 53 percent disapproving and 7 percent undecided. A year ago, 49 percentof respondents approved and another 45 percent disapproved.Approval of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of Israel-U.S.relations dropped to 54 percent, with another 32 percent disapproving and 13percent undecided. A year ago, 62 percent of the Jews polled approved ofNetanyahu’s handling of the bilateral relationship, while another 27 percentdisapproved and 11 percent said they weren’t sure.In general, 63 percent of American Jews characterize U.S.-Israel relations aspositive and 36 percent as negative. In 2010, 68 percent were positive and 31percent negative about U.S.-Israel relations.Arab-Israel PeacePerceptions of prospects for a lasting peace between Israel and the Arabs have alsotaken a downward turn. Less than 3 percent of respondents said they were “moreoptimistic” about the peace prospects now than they had been one year ago,compared with 8 percent feeling “more optimistic” in last year’s survey. This year, 35percent of respondents said their outlook has become “less optimistic”, compared to18 percent last year.Support for a Palestinian state also declined in the past year. The new surveyshowed that, in the current situation, 38 percent would favor, and 55 percent wouldoppose, the establishment of a Palestinian state. A year ago, the AJC survey found48 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed.On a related question concerning Palestinian efforts to unilaterally seek recognitionof statehood without an agreement with Israel, only 9 percent approved of thisstrategy, while 88 percent disapproved. 8
  9. 9. Support for requiring the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is strong,with 95 percent saying they should be required to do so in a final peace agreement.Regarding U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority, 73 percent of American Jews wouldsupport, and 21 percent oppose, the U.S. Congress withdrawing assistance if thePA and Hamas form a unity government.Iran Nuclear ThreatRegarding Iran, 43 percent approve, and 45 percent disapprove, of the Obamaadministration’s handling of the Iran nuclear issue, a similar finding to the 2010survey. The new survey also finds, as last year, that a majority, 71 percent, saythere is “little” or “no” chance that a combination of diplomacy and sanctions canstop Iran from developing nuclear weaponsParty AffiliationThe percentage of Jewish voters who identified themselves as Democrats has alsobeen in gradual decline over the past few years. It dropped to 45 percent this year,down from 48 percent a year ago and 53 percent in the fall of 2009.While the share of those who considered themselves Republicans remained virtuallyunchanged – with 16 percent this year, compared to 17 percent a year before and16 percent in 2009 – the share of self-identified Independents has expanded to 38percent this year, up from 34 percent a year ago and 30 percent in 2009.In reading through the results of the survey one should remember that it records thethinking of its respondents at a particular moment. It in no way reflects how theymight feel a day later or certainly a month or year later. For instance, the impact ofPres. Obama’s speech at the UN which has been taken to be very much in favor ofIsrael’s position will surely improve his poll numbers.The winnowing out of Republican candidates for the presidency in the next fewmonths will also surely change the percentages each candidate might receive fromJewish voters. And, who knows what will happen with the Middle East?Even so, the survey does indicate that Jewish opinion thinks less of the President’spolicies than it did before. Feelings about a Palestinian state have also declined.We’ll just have to see how the major events that are coming up such as the outcomeof the UN vote on a Palestinian state, Pres. Obama’s new more aggressive style onmajor U.S. issues and the economic situation develop. While this newsletter doesnot do any polling, we do try to keep you up to date on developments. We’ll continueto do that. 9
  10. 10. EVZ —TROUBLE!Ben Weinthal writing in The Jerusalem Post recently reported, “A Germanfoundation that seeks to combat Jew-hatred and carry forward the memories of thevictims of the Nazi period has enabled teenage students to draw crude pictures ofIsraeli Jewish pupils as part of a German and Israeli Arab high-school exchangeprogram.The revelation that a Holocaust foundation funneled public money to hardcore anti-Israel educational activities unleashed criticism last week from the Jerusalem-basedNGO Monitor group and German experts on academic anti- Semitism.The foundation – Remembrance, Responsibility, Future (EVZ) — provided funds topartner agencies to produce a 31-page brochure depicting Orthodox Jewishstudents wearing yarmulkes and bearing sidelocks while seated in a well-keptclassroom with a sign over a world map stating “Jewish School.”The adjacent drawing shows a dilapidated, overcrowded schoolroom withPalestinian pupils seated below a giant cobweb and a beat-up map lackingcountries. A collapsing sign above the students reads “Palestine School.”A second cartoon apparently shows a light-skinned Israeli asking a dark-skinnedPalestinian if he wants to be friends. An imposing tank is positioned behind bothstudents, suggesting that the Israeli student is compelling the Palestinian student toshake his hand.Anne Herzberg, legal adviser for NGO Monitor, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday,“The reported use of German government funding for a student project thatproduced anti-Semitic images is deplorable, and shows a complete lack of judgmentand oversight.”Herzberg added, “Instead of utilizing the funding to compensate victims of the Nazisand educate about the horrors of the regime, as it was intended, money wasredirected to a project for Arab and German students that both presented andfostered a distorted view of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”Students from Nazareth and the Gerhart Hauptmann school in Wernigerode, a smalltown in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, participated in the exchangeprogram, whose purpose was to examine the “Right to Education.”The brochure features articles in English, Arabic and German. Dr. Martin Salm, thechairman of the Holocaust foundation, said that “500 copies were produced at a costof 2,130 euros.”Salm told the Post that the brochure is “problematic” and promotes “stereotypes”because it shows male Israelis with sidelocks and yarmulkes. He said that EVZ 10
  11. 11. funded the exchange program in the context of a partnership program with otherNGOs, and that he would not allow the brochures into the foundation’s offices.Dr. Matthias Küntzel, a Hamburg-based political scientist and leading expert onGerman anti-Semitism, told the Post, “The foundation thus fell for fake marketing. Inits own profile, the school emphasizes that it has neither Jewish students nor aJewish teacher. The school is operated by a non-governmental organization thataccuses the Israeli educational system of subjecting the country’s Arab minority to‘social control’ and ‘social exclusion.’ This project separates itself from Israel incontent and methodology. It aims not at integration but at exclusion. Thus thisprivate school’s statements emphasize the ‘principle of natural inequality.’"This background explains why, in the brochures drawings of the HEAR Project,Israel is never spoken of, but only Jews and Palestinians. It explains why the image,familiar from PLO propaganda, of rich and violent Jews on the one hand and poorand oppressed Arabs on the other is presented," Küntzel said.He called for the EVZ Board of Directors to stop financial support for HEAR projects.The brochure draws many disturbing parallels between Israel and the former EastGermany Stalinist state.While I understand that it is difficult for any large organization to totally monitor theactivities of each and every one of its subsidiaries or its funded programs, in this dayand age of open information almost everything becomes public. Therefore, there is aresponsibility to have procedures in place to make sure that the funding is not usedfor purposes other than what it should be. When it comes to programs that might betinged with anti-Semitism it behooves groups like EVZ to not only be extremelycareful but to repair the damage as soon as possible in a public way. I think that is areasonable request.**************************************************************************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