people.THE OBERMAYER AWARDS – German Jewish history awards. Can you help?DEATH OF A PARTY – The Pirates walk their own pla...
Anti-Jewish hostility is often expressed in the more „politically respectable‟ demonizationof the Jewish nation state, all...
outcome no one likes. However a late poll just completed notes that the FDP for the firsttime in a long time has reached t...
least a year of completely unblocked legislating. The earliest that an SPD-Greencoalition government could lose its Bundes...
city 68 years before.For years, neo-Nazis have used the anniversary of the bombing to march on the city.The bombing of Dre...
most. "But in the subsequent development of party financing, we moved away fromsuch arbitrary political payments."Now the ...
The Times of Israel recently reported, “Germany‟s Jews are disagreeing about whetherthe country‟s largest neo-Nazi party s...
THE NSU MURDERSIn the last year I have written sporadically about the neo-Nazi murder group but havenot spelled out the en...
“The murders of the Thuringian terror cell were an attack on our country,” a somber-looking Merkel said. “They have brough...
the 21-year-old was born and murdered renamed after him. Currently, theres a squarewhich bears his name. Apart from that, ...
Holocaust, in recognition of the profound contribution of Jewish culture and individualsto Germany and in hopes of rebuild...
Rhine-Westphalia. Marina Weisband, one of the Pirates most iconic figures, took refugein gallows humor last week when she ...
after reports surfaced that parts of his dissertation were taken from sources he had notappropriately credited.A little pl...
Obviously, the article doesn’t have anything to do with German – Jewish relations.However, I think it is important for tho...
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  1. 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTERdubowdigest@optonline.netAMERICAN EDITIONMarch 6, 2013Dear Friends:With spring (almost) in the air my friends in Germany tell me they are beginning to seethe end of the grayest winter they can remember. Perhaps the citizenry, by and large,has been waiting for warmer temps to start complaining about whatever it is they wantto complain about. However, the last month, at least, seems to have been a quiet one.Yes! In Berlin there was a demonstration against tearing down, or at least moving partof the remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall (It succeeded – for the time being) and thegovernment admitted they made a mistake in trying to impose a big new train station inStuttgart (They have to continue the construction as it would cost too much to stop) butnothing really monumental happened.However, that is not to say that the issues we report on in this journal were withoutactivity. As the kids say, “Stuff happens!” It did. Read about it below. On to the news…IN THIS EDITIONANTI-SEMITISM: GERMANY – When does anti-Israelism morph into anti-Semitism?POLITICS: THE UPPER HOUSE & THE ELECTION – The Chancellor has lost hermajority. What does that forecast for the election?DRESDEN & THE NEO-NAZIS – Hooray for the citizens!NEO-NAZI FUNDING – Government money no less!GERMAN JEWS & BANNING THE NEO-NAZIS – United? No! 1 PageTHE NSU MURDERS - Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund: And they were killing1
  2. 2. people.THE OBERMAYER AWARDS – German Jewish history awards. Can you help?DEATH OF A PARTY – The Pirates walk their own plank (or lack of having one)GERMAN POLITICAL SCANDAL & ACADEMIC TITLES–Plagiarism takes its toll.ANTI-SEMITISM: GERMANY(This article also appears in my Germany Edition)When Jews and Israel are discussed one of the most difficult issues to come to termswith is “What is anti-Semitism and what is legitimate political criticism of the JewishState of Israel?” There is no doubt that some people who are critical of Israel’s policiesare not anti-Semites even though they are accused of being just that. On the otherhand, there are those with deep seated anti-Jewish feelings and attitudes that claimthey are only being critical of political policies. Because overt anti-Semitism is no longeracceptable in Western society they claim not to be anti-Semitic and, therefore,“bulletproof”. Sometimes the armor looks pretty thin.Over the years wordsmiths have worked up ways of expressing anti-Semitism so thatno one can lay a glove on the purveyors. Indeed, it is sometimes very difficult to “prove”that individuals are anti-Semites. “Smoking guns” are frequently hard to find. However,what are we to believe when there is a tsunami of anti-Israelism in a society? Is it justpolitical criticism or is it something more troubling? There are indications that somethinglike that may be happening in Germany.Isi Leibler is a well-known Israeli leader and political “pundit”. He writes frequently in theJerusalem Post and Israel Hayom. In a recent article which appeared in both journalshe wrote, “In the aftermath of the Holocaust, successive German governments havemeticulously upheld their obligations to the Jewish people. Study of the Holocaust is amandatory component of the German state education curriculum, Holocaust denial isclassified as a crime and restitution commitments were honored and even exceeded.Chancellor Angela Merkel is a genuine friend of the Jews and despite intense politicalpressures and occasional minor vacillations, has consistently supported Israel,describing its security as “part of my country‟s raison d‟etre”. However in recent years,as in other European countries, German public opinion has turned against Israel,perceiving it as the principal threat to global stability and peace. This hostility hasincreasingly assumed overt anti-Semitic tones.There is growing resentment against Jews, who are blamed for imposing excessiveemphasis on collective German national guilt for the Holocaust. 2 Page2
  3. 3. Anti-Jewish hostility is often expressed in the more „politically respectable‟ demonizationof the Jewish nation state, allegedly not related to anti-Semitism although the“Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe” (OSCE) explicitly defines suchbehavior as anti-Semitic.I am going to make you read Leibler’s article (see below) wherein he spells out thevarious outcroppings of the kind of language which seems to prove the point he makesthat anti-Semitism is becoming more acceptable than it would have been a decade ago.Leibler concludes his article with, “It was significant that in 2010, two Bundestag leftistrepresentatives were aboard the Turkish Marvi Marmara and that for the first time, theleft and the right united in parliament to carry a unanimous resolution censuring Israelfor the Gaza flotilla episode. This in itself may not represent anti-Semitism, but reflectsthe atmosphere of increasing hostility against Israel which would have beeninconceivable in Germany only a few years ago.For Jews, the positive side of Germany is the evident abundance of pro-Israeli and evenphilo-Semitic rank and file Germans in all walks of life. Yet, simultaneously theintensifying efforts by left wing activists uniting with Moslem extremists and occasionallyeven Nazis, to demonize Israel and promote anti-Semitism, provide valid grounds forconcern about a future for Jews in Germany.The situation is likely to further deteriorate drastically after the culmination of AngelaMerkel‟s term as Chancellor.Perhaps he is a bit over the top about his “concern about a future for Jews in Germany”.Every time I see an eruption of anti-Semitic writing or behavior I also see a strongreaction in Germany. As long as it remains the democracy it is the implications remainpositive for Jews and Jewish life. However, European anti-Semitism remains a constantand, indeed, is growing by leaps and bounds. If the virus spreads further, well, all betsare off. It is a time when actions and words have to be examined more closely. What ishappening is very unsettling.The Leibler article can be read by clicking here. THE UPPER HOUSE & THE ELECTIONThe national election in Germany won’t be taking place until September. ChancellorMerkel remains the most popular politician in the country but, as I’ve pointed outnumerous times she (and her CDU/CSU party) needs her coalition partner, the FreeDemocrats (FDP) to get at least 5% of the vote to win seats in the Bundestag. If thatdoesn’t happen, the opposition Social Democrats (SDP) and the Greens would have an 3easier path to a majority and could push her out of office. If none of that happens thereis the possibility of a “Grand Coalition” between the CDU/CSU and the SDP – an Page3
  4. 4. outcome no one likes. However a late poll just completed notes that the FDP for the firsttime in a long time has reached the 5% level. Good news for them and for theChancellor. We’ll have to see if they can maintain it.It would be nice for Fr. Merkel to, sort of, sit back, govern and see what happens inSeptember. She can’t! Why? She no longer has a majority in the upper house of theparliament, the Bundesrat.According to DW, “The Bundesrat is becoming a troubling problem for Merkel. Herdifficulties began in 2010, when Merkels Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and itscoalition partner the Free Democratic Party (FDP) lost several regional elections andalong with them its majority in the upper house, which is made up of the governments ofGermanys 16 states. In the Bundesrat, state government representatives can re-evaluate and overturn laws passed in the Bundestag, the German parliaments lowerhouse, if the laws affect the states.Merkels government has been forced into compromises with the opposition and thosecompromises have often only come after drawn-out talks in the parliaments bicameralnegotiating committee. Occasionally, the government has attempted to use legalloopholes to shut the Bundesrat out of the legislative process, by declaring certain lawsas "not subject to approval." But ever since the Lower Saxony election in January, thatsno longer possible either. Now states governed by the Social Democrats (SPD), theGreens, and the socialist Left party account for 36 of the 69 votes in the Bundesrat.With that majority under its belt, the opposition has the right to either stop or renegotiateall government bills, without exception. The Bundesrat can also let the bills rot until theend of the legislative period. That means that most laws are now dependent on theapproval of the opposition - which the government can rarely count on.It is true that the Bundesrat is not always so slavish about party politics. Often, the statepremiers make decisions according to their own interests, not those of their partyheadquarters in Berlin. But now, with a general election looming in September, that ishardly likely.But the Bundesrat is not limited to imposing blockades. It also has the right to start itsown legislative initiatives, and in the next few months, it intends to prepare the groundfor another SPD-Green turn in German politics. It wants to introduce initiatives like aminimum wage, tax equality for gay couples, and the right to dual citizenship for allchildren born to foreign parents in Germany.The Bundesrat is rarely the scene of eye-catching heated political duals, and evenapplause is frowned upon. And the Bundestag, still in Merkels hands, has the right toblock the Bundesrats bills. But opposition members are determined to show theelectorate they mean business and that the bills they proposes could become reality ifthey receive the most votes in the poll on September 22. 4One thing is already certain: if the SPD and the Greens do win the election, the new Pagecenter-left government under Social Democrat Peer Steinbrück can look forward to at4
  5. 5. least a year of completely unblocked legislating. The earliest that an SPD-Greencoalition government could lose its Bundesrat majority would be the Brandenburgelection in autumn 2014.Being the “most powerful woman in the world”, as you can now see, is not a permanentposition. The politics in the local states can eat away at that power. It does not as yetappear to have affected Chancellor Merkel’s personal popularity. However, it should bekept in mind that in Germany the political parties are much more important than theindividual. Therefore, it behooves us (and her) to “stay tuned”.DRESDEN & THE NEO-NAZISIn early February The reported on an annual expected rally of neo-Nazis. Itnoted, “Far-right extremists gather in Dresden each February 13th to condemn thefirebombing that nearly completely destroyed the city only months before the end ofWorld War II. But local residents have challenged the neo-Nazi hijacking of the date fortheir propaganda purposes.The massive Allied bombing raid on Dresden in February 1945 killed thousands ofcivilians even though it was strategically unnecessary at the time with Hitler‟s forcesnearly defeated.The number of those who were killed has also been controversial, with an officialestimate lowered to 25,000 a few years ago. Prior to that, hundreds of thousands wherethought to have died in the raid.Some 3,000 police from across Germany will be present to try and keep around 1,000fascists away from an estimated 10,000 demonstrators.“The police consider its duty to be a neutral party guaranteeing the freedom ofassembly,” said Dresden Police Chief Dieter Kroll, according to public broadcasterMDR.No doubt that the city of Dresden was ready for a dangerous demonstration andpossibly an ugly confrontation between the neo-Nazis and the expected counterdemonstrators.Surprise! That’s not what happened.In a later edition The reported, “In the past, right-wing extremists have soughtto dominate Dresden efforts to remember the World War II bombing of the city on Feb.13, 1945. But on Wednesday night, a vast human chain blocked a planned neo-Nazimarch while peacefully marking the tension-filled anniversary. 5Thousands of people joined hands to form a human chain in Dresden Wednesday, Pageblocking a planned neo-Nazi march and remembering the World War II bombing of the5
  6. 6. city 68 years before.For years, neo-Nazis have used the anniversary of the bombing to march on the city.The bombing of Dresden holds great emotional significance for some because of thevast destruction of the city -- long admired for its beauty and cultural heritage -- andbecause of the number of people killed in the attack. It has often been instrumentalizedby right-wing extremists to highlight what they see as Allied barbarity.Peaceful protesters have been gathering in Dresden in recent years in counterdemonstrations to the neo-Nazi marches, and local politicians say they have beeneffective in keeping the right-wing presence down. Until just a few years ago there werean estimated 6,000 right-wing marchers in the city on the anniversary each year. Thisyear police say there were between 600 and 800.To get thousands of people out on a February night to stand in the cold to make apolitical statement is a genuine achievement. The message is clear.The article is accompanied by a set of pictures both touching and upsetting. I think youshould take a moment to click here and give them a look. They will tell you a great dealmore than the printed article. FUNDINGOne of those peculiarities of the German political system is that all political parties getgovernment funding – including the neo-Nazi NPD Party. According to DW, “Despite itsfar-right positions, the NPD received financial support from the German parliament, theBundestag, until last week - in 2011 it received a grand total of 1.32 million euros ($1.74million) of taxpayers money.”But that is all over now. A payment of 113,000 euros, which the party was still entitled tofor last years campaign costs, was stopped. The Bundestag has also asked theregional parliaments to freeze their payments to the NPD. The reason is apparently anadministrative error - the NPD is reported to have provided incomplete records of itsfinances, and is now refusing to pay the fine imposed by the Federal AdministrativeCourt.But why should a German far-right party be entitled to state money as long as it keepsits books in order?Germanys party financing regulations apply irrespective of a partys politics. "At the verystart of the history of the Federal Republic, money was distributed according topreference," says Kai Arzheimer, head of the political science institute at the University 6of Mainz. For that reason, government parties tended to benefit from state money the Page6
  7. 7. most. "But in the subsequent development of party financing, we moved away fromsuch arbitrary political payments."Now the Bundestag decides by way of strictly objective rules which groups get moneyfrom the state. In order to qualify for support, a party must field candidates at federal,state, or European elections. Then the party must win at least 0.5 percent of the vote. Ifclears that hurdle, the party receives 85 euro cents for every vote - and 70 cents foranything above four million votes.That gives small parties the opportunity to take their place on the political stage, andthat doesnt only go for the NPD. The rise of the Green party was only possible becauseof party financing, according to Arzheimer. "The system is meant to make politicalinnovation possible, so that parties can prove that they have serious goals and can getelected too," he says.So the NPD is subject to the same rules as all the other parties, and the reason for thewithholding of funds - at least for now - lies in its faulty accounting. In order to get thesubsidy from the Bundestag, each party has to provide regular reports of how muchmoney it has, and what it is spending its state subsidy on. The Federal AdministrativeCourt said that its 2007 report was incorrect and incomplete, and in December 2012 itimposed a fine of 1.27 million euros. As the NPD failed to pay up, all payments havenow been stopped.The cancellation of payments comes two months after the interior ministers ofGermanys 16 states agreed to attempt a legal ban on the NPD. It will be the secondtime that the ministers will present a ban to Germanys Constitutional Court. The firstattempt failed in 2003 because German intelligence agents were found to be active inthe NPD leadership.According to the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel, citing Christian Democratic Union sources,Chancellor Angela Merkel is now planning to convince her cabinet to bring its own suitto ban the NPD.No matter what sorts of law suits are brought and no matter what the Bundestag doesthe final decision regarding the NPD’s legality as a party is up to the courts. I thinkoutlawing them will be a tough sell. They may be undemocratic but outlawing a party isa sensitive matter in Germany going back to the 1930’s when the Nazis outlawedopposing parties. Germany democracy in some instances can be very democratic. We’llhave to wait and see how the matter is finally concluded.GERMAN JEWS & BANNING THE NEO-NAZISOne would think that the German Jewish leadership could, behind closed doors, mapout a unified position on whether the neo-Nazi NPD Party should be outlawed or not. 7However, that does not seem to be the case. Page7
  8. 8. The Times of Israel recently reported, “Germany‟s Jews are disagreeing about whetherthe country‟s largest neo-Nazi party should be banned.The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany says the organization‟s officialposition has for many years been consistent in calling for authorities to initiate legalproceedings to outlaw the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), which is said tofollow in the ideological footsteps of Hitler‟s Nazi party. Yet the organization‟s secretary-general, Stephan J. Kramer, caused a stir last week when he said that he was decidedlyagainst such a step.“One cannot prohibit [neo-Nazi] ideas, you can only fight them,” Kramer told a localnewspaper. Any efforts to ban the party were doomed to failure, he said.In response to Kramer‟s statements, which were widely reported in national mediaoutlets, the Jewish Central Council‟s president and vice presidents issued a statementThursday clarifying that the organization‟s longstanding call for a ban remains its officialposition on the matter.“We still strongly advocate for the Bundestag and the federal government to rapidly jointhe Bundesrat‟s initiative,” the statement read, referring to the two houses of Germanparliament. “We would view this as a sign of a fighting democracy that confronts itsenemies.” It is incomprehensible why public funds should finance neo-Nazi propagandaand hatred, the statement continued. “In our view, this party should have been bannedlong ago.”The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel has yet to decide whether to support theeffort. Several senior politicians in her cabinet are skeptical, fearing that either theGerman Supreme Court or the European Court of Human Rights could annul a ban ofthe party, which, despite being ideologically close to Nazism, operates within theparameters of the law.“The Central Council‟s position [to support an NPD ban] is unequivocal,” Kramer toldGerman reporters last week. “But as a citizen of this country I allow myself to have adifferent personal opinion.”I know Stephan very well. He is an outstanding and deeply committed Jewishprofessional. In this case he has, perhaps, erred.Every human being is entitled to have a “personal opinion”. That’s not the questionhere. The problem is going public with that opinion when the organization for which youwork has an opposing position. Do you not have an obligation to support theorganization or, if you cannot, either stay silent or resign? Of course, there is thequestion of how important the individual is to the organization. Sometimes things can beoverlooked and that may happen here. Stephan is a very important and well knownpublic figure. I’m sure the Central Council would not want to lose him. I wouldn’t!However, divergent opinions coming from the Central Council can be very confusing to 8the general public and, worse, to the government. Unanimity here, in my opinion, is Pagereally important.8
  9. 9. THE NSU MURDERSIn the last year I have written sporadically about the neo-Nazi murder group but havenot spelled out the entire story. Below I want to rectify that error of omission. It’s animportant story, one that bears telling and understanding not only about the murdergang but the aftermath as well.It is certainly no secret that that there are neo-Nazis in Germany. What was not knownuntil a little more than a year ago is that there was a small organized murder group thatwas unknown to the police. According to Wikipedia there were, “…a series of murdersthat took place in Germany between 2000 and 2006, leaving ten people dead and onewounded. The perpetrators called themselves National Socialist Underground (NSU)(German: Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund). The primary target of these right-wingextremist-oriented crimes were predominantly immigrants of Turkish origin and oneperson of Greek origin.The victims were mostly small business owners (doner kebab vendors, grocers,locksmiths, alteration tailors, internet café operators) who were murdered in broaddaylight by being shot in the face at close range, all with one and the same weapon, asilenced CZ 83.The German authorities identified three suspects, Uwe Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos, andBeate Zschäpe as responsible for the murders and attempted murders. Böhnhardt andMundlos were found dead by police after they robbed a bank on 4 November 2011.Police say they committed suicide. Zschäpe turned herself in on 11 November 2011.She will go on trial shortly.The police and intelligence services were terribly embarrassed especially when it wasrevealed, (DW) “Fresh revelations have once again put an embarrassing spotlight onthe German police: an alleged accomplice of the neo-Nazi terror cell National SocialistUnderground (NSU) apparently also for several years worked as an informant forBerlins State Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA). Initially the only news tricklingthrough was that the authorities were tipped off as early as 2002 on the possiblewhereabouts of the terrorist trio; however, they apparently failed to pursue this line ofenquiry. Shortly after it transpired that the LKA informant even supplied the group withexplosives.The very poor performance of the police and intelligence agencies, including the factthat this group was killing people for years without their even knowing about it made itinto a national disgrace. It came to a point where the President of Germany felt itincumbent upon himself to meet with the families of the victims and a new national neo-Nazi register was announced.In addition, a memorial was held in Berlin in which, “Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the 9main address before 1,200 guests at the Concert House on the central PageGendarmenmarkt Square.9
  10. 10. “The murders of the Thuringian terror cell were an attack on our country,” a somber-looking Merkel said. “They have brought shame upon our country.”She was flanked on stage by candles representing the victims: “Ten burning candles,ten lives extinguished – extinguished by cold-blooded murder.”In order to somehow make amends to the families of the victims an ombudsperson forthe NSU victims families was appointed. Barbara John, who for 22 years wascommissioner for foreigners affairs for the city-state of Berlin was given the job. Sheheads the Association of Social Movements in Berlin. In 2007, John was elected headof the federal governments antidiscrimination advisory board. She’s great person.Exactly the right one to shoulder this responsibility.DW interviewed her. The transcript follows. “Deutsche Welle: you are urging thecreation of a foundation to commemorate the murders of the rightwing extremist NSUgroup. What is behind this appeal?Barbara John: The basic idea is that the relatives can get active. The process of comingto terms with the worst series of murders in post-war Germany since those of theleftwing extremist RAF should not come to an end the moment the parliamentary inquiryfinishes its work and the memorial plaques have all been put up. The foundation shouldmainly work to get security officials - the police and possibly justice authorities - to dealwith victims better. One could get the families concerned involved, with all theirexperience. It is also very important to ensure that the documents - the investigationrecords, the documents from the future court case and the minutes of the parliamentaryinquiry - are not again dispersed all over the place. Much is to be learned from thesedocuments, and that is only possible if they are kept in one place - that means thereshould be a documentation center.How would you finance the project?There are no funds yet. It would be groundbreaking if civil society would make itpossible. If every citizen who earns money were to donate 50 cents just once, such afoundation could become reality.Isnt that first and foremost a task for politics or the government?It would certainly be easier, but a civil society foundation, where the citizens themselvessay "we want things to change," would be an important stimulus for society. It wouldexpress the commitment of the citizens that we want to push back rightwing radicalthought and action.Speaking about money: you campaigned for payments to the murder victims families -are you and the families satisfied? 10That varies. There is one family that will not accept a cent. The Yozgat family from PageKassel wanted a permanent memorial for their son Halit. They wanted the street where10
  11. 11. the 21-year-old was born and murdered renamed after him. Currently, theres a squarewhich bears his name. Apart from that, the family refuses any kind of compensation. Ofcourse, no amount of material compensation can compensate for the death of a familymember. But it is also about compensation for expenses. Every close relative hasreceived 10,000 euros ($13,383.) As far as I am concerned, this is a meager sum. Justthink of the victims on the Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground in Italy.Everyone on that ship got more money than the NSU murder victims families.The German Chancellor wants to meet the relatives once again. How significant is that?It is exceedingly important to be noticed and to continue to remind the public that theseinconceivable events really happened. What we know so far about the securityauthorities botched investigations will play a great role in the meeting with thechancellor. I think it is very important for the chancellor to hear first-hand what effectthat had on the families and how they think one might create a better atmosphere ingeneral between natives and immigrants.What must change, what lessons must Germany learn from the neo-Nazi killing spree?Two things - when I was commissioner of foreigners affairs, this was always the mostimportant issue, too: there should never be mixed political messages. On one hand,there are demands for immigration and better integration, but at the same time,foreigners across the board are held responsible for things that go wrong. Demonizingor denying the existence of a multifaceted, multicultural society also sends the wrongsignals: "They are just a nuisance here." That must stop. The second point concerns usall: how often do you hear a derogatory, negative remark about immigrants in your owncircles. People accept it or ignore it. Instead, you should broach the subject, and try tofind out why people think that way. It is important not to give any space to such opinionswhich want to exclude some people. Rightwing radicals can only spread into the spaceswe leave for them.Like I said – the right person for the job.THE OBERMAYER AWARDSIn the year 2000 Arthur Obermayer of Boston instituted an important set of prizes, theObermayer German-Jewish History Awards which are given annually to individuals whohave made outstanding voluntary contributions toward preserving and recording theJewish history, heritage, culture and/or remnants of local German communities.The award announcement notes, “In recent decades, many individuals in Germanyhave tried to study, interpret, and reconstruct information about the Jewish life thatflourished in Germany for centuries in communities large and small, and to confront itsdestruction. 11In many cases, these individuals have, without thought of reward, helped raise Pageawareness about a once-vibrant culture, in memorial to those who perished in the11
  12. 12. Holocaust, in recognition of the profound contribution of Jewish culture and individualsto Germany and in hopes of rebuilding destroyed connections.These volunteers have devoted countless hours to such projects, but until now few havebeen recognized or honored for their efforts. The German Jewish Community HistoryCouncil believes it is particularly meaningful for Jews the world over to recognize andencourage such work through this award, and to bring international attention to theseactivities”.Arthur, an old friend, wrote to me, “Because so many American Jews have beenbeneficiaries of the work of these dedicated Germans, it is important that your audiencehas an opportunity to submit nominations for this significant award. For moreinformation, please visit, if you know of a possible nominee, please contact Arthur. A nominating form can beobtained by clicking on the link above.DEATH OF A PARTYThose of you who have been reading DuBow Digest know that last year I extensivelycovered the rise of a new political party in Germany – The Pirate Party. Any politicalorganization with such a name was, of course, destined to get publicity. When itsomehow was not able to come together to post any kind of a political platform it lookedas if it might come to a quick end. It did talk about being the party of the Internet but noone could figure out what that meant.Surprisingly it did not quickly self-destruct. With deep concern about the establishedparties, some of the electorate turned to the Pirates and elected some of them to stateparliaments. They got 15 seats in Berlin, 4 in Saarland, 20 in North Rhine Westphaliaand 8.2% of the vote in Schleswig-Holstein though it was hard to figure out what theystood for.However, with the national election coming up in September the Pirates seem to becommitting political suicide and look as if they’re finished as any kind of even a protestorganization.Spiegel On-Line recently reported, “The Pirate Party finds itself falling apart. WithGerman federal elections seven months away, a minor miracle would have to occur forthe Pirates to clear the 5 percent hurdle that allows a party to hold seats in theBundestag, the countrys parliament. The Pirate Party has been too busy tearing itselfapart, with members fighting leaders, who are bickering among themselves andantagonizing the members too. In just the last two days, party leaders for the states ofBaden-Württemberg and Brandenburg have stepped down, citing the negative climate. 12"The atmosphere is so poisonous, theres hardly any constructive work taking place Pageanymore," says Udo Vetter, one of the partys prominent candidates in the state of North12
  13. 13. Rhine-Westphalia. Marina Weisband, one of the Pirates most iconic figures, took refugein gallows humor last week when she tweeted, "Were the party of liquid democrazy." Itmay sound funny, but its not a joke.One of the reasons why I’ve had more than a passing interest in the Pirate Party is thefact that its political director, Marina Weisband, is Jewish. I pointed out last year that myclose friend, Howie Weisband who lives in Israel, and is a longtime Pittsburgh Piratefan, might be related to Marina. They may or not be kin but it seems that theirorganizations are suffering the same fate.Again Spiegel On-Line, “Marina Weisband, too, has seen how her party treats peoplewho are well-liked by the general public. The partys former political director, whostepped down in January citing health issues, briefly considered returning to politics andrunning for a seat in the upcoming parliamentary election. But when SPIEGELpublished an article detailing her intentions, there was a hail of criticism from partymembers who said the politician was arrogant and taking herself too seriously. Soonafter, Weisband announced she would not be running for parliament this year.These days, Weisband looks exhausted, in part from all the party infighting. She haswritten a book scheduled for publication in March, and at the moment will commentpublicly only on that, not the Pirates. It seems shes afraid to be told once again thatshes making too much of herself.But Weisbands blog reveals how she sees the Pirate Party these days. The partypromised to reform democracy, she writes, wanting to be a force in which an ideasmerit was the only thing that mattered, and anyone could take part. But it failed to makegood on that promise. "Were too cowardly," Weisband writes. "We lied."If you’d like to read the whole Spiegel On-Line story click here. POLITICAL SCANDAL & ACADEMIC TITLESThe German government has recently had to shoulder a major scandal when(DW)“Former Education Minister Annette Schavan has suffered the consequences ofthe plagiarism scandal surrounding her doctorate. Four days after Heinrich HeineUniversity revoked her title, Schavan resigned from her post.“…it was Internet users rather than university officials who got the ball rolling on theplagiarism affair. People trying to spot instances of plagiarism published questionablepassages from prominent figures dissertations online. The passages in questiongenerally involved unattributed quotations that could be found in other works. Althoughmild cases might be chalked up to citation errors, people were looking for evidence that 13theft of intellectual property had occurred. The most well-known case to date involved Pageformer Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who stepped down in March 201113
  14. 14. after reports surfaced that parts of his dissertation were taken from sources he had notappropriately credited.A little plagiarism in a 30 year old Ph.D. thesis, it seems to me, would not be such a bigdeal in the U.S. A public apology or some half-truth explanation would probably beaccepted by the public and the matter would be put to rest. However, the culture inGermany, especially when it comes to academic titles, takes cheating to obtain themvery seriously. How come?Anna Sauerbrey, an editor at the Berlin daily Der Tagesspeigel wrote in The New YorkTimes, “…the scandal has opened up a conversation about Germany‟s hunger forscandal and moral self-flagellation wherever it is found, however minor — a conditionthat has fed a deep, slow-burning crisis in our political culture.Germany is remarkably free of serious cases of political misbehavior.Strangely, the lack of scandal and the hunger for it wherever it arises [by the media],has fed another tendency in the German psyche: a historically induced mistrust of thepolitical system.Though Germany has been a nation of goody-two-shoes for decades, many Germansremain convinced that there is evil lurking in each of us, especially our political elite.Isn‟t that the one thing history has taught us, that every political system is fallible, thatthere can never be enough control over the political leaders?When we don‟t find that evil, we look deeper, until we find something, anything, to proveus right. Instead of taking pride in our comparatively low level of corruption and our fairlyhigh level of prosperity, German voters and the news media are busy scolding theirleaders and constantly feeling mistreated.All of this would be funny if it didn‟t have a dire consequence. Fewer and fewer of theyoung and talented are choosing politics as their field of work. Who wants to work in asupposedly wicked profession, where everyone is watching you? The political parties,which function as the magnet and training ground for future bureaucrats and politicalleaders, are having trouble attracting enough people to work in the federal government,not to mention the states.True, there are other factors: the money is definitely elsewhere; politics in Germany isnot as lucrative as it is in America. But the idealism that drives young politicianseverywhere is gone, too.In the reactions to Annette Schavan‟s resignation, however, there has been a new tone.Berlin, capital of vain negativity and furious criticism, seems to be on the brink of self-reflection. People are starting to ask whether we should be so cruel toward leaders whomake such minor mistakes, just to satisfy our own righteousness. Seeing a decent, 14upstanding minister of education leaving the stage for minor reasons could be a turningpoint in our political culture.” Page14
  15. 15. Obviously, the article doesn’t have anything to do with German – Jewish relations.However, I think it is important for those who read this newsletter to understandGermany, its morals and its political climate. When one considers the recent JesseJackson, Jr. and Jack Abramoff scandals here in the U.S. the differences between themorals and penalties here in the U.S. and in Germany are absolutely stark.****************************************************************************************************See you again in early April.DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted byclicking hereBoth the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.comClick here to connectBTW – all editions are posted at 15 Page15