AMERI CAN EDITION August 26, 2011 Dear Friends: If you can rip yourself away from watching the

ups and downs of the stock market for a few moments there are some things going on out there in terms of German – American Jewish relations that may not be of such immediate importance but, nonetheless, are of notable consequence for the future of the Jewish people. At the moment Germans are also wrapped up in thinking about the world economy. However, they are mostly focused on whether their EU neighbors will bring down the Euro by continuing to be very deep in debt without the will to do anything about it. Supporting and bailing out the poor relatives is no fun. A small damper on Germany’s current good economic situation came about recently when the energy giant E. ON Corporation announced the layoff of 11,000 workers. In addition the German stock market is not immune from the recent devastation of the American market or, for that matter, those of the other Euro countries. To Germans, like most Americans, but to even a greater degree, the month of August means “Urlaub” (vacation). Given that most Germans get 6 weeks of vacation a year, August means that much of the country is “away”. Telephone calls are not answered and e-mails not opened. Even so, life goes on. BTW, there is a new German Ambassador in Washington, Peter Amman. You can read about him by clicking here. http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/01__Embassy/Washington/02/01/Amb__ Ammon__CV.html On to the news… IN THIS EDITION THE WALL: 50th ANNIVERSARY – The Berlin Wall was built 50 years ago. It still exists in German minds. GEMANIZING ISLAM – Is there a way for Islam to become a genuine part of Germany? GERMAN SENSITIVITY & A GOEBBEL’S PHRASE – Has German sensitivity to World War II disappeared? Hardly! THE PALESTINIANS, THE UN & GERMANY – In the statehood scramble Germany may (“may” that is) play an important role.

1

SIX AMBASSADORS SPEAK UP – Israel’s friends put it on the line. BAN THE RIGHT? HOW ABOUT THE LEFT? – The desire to ban extreme political parties seems to be “in” this year. COLOGNE’S JEWISH PAST – A new museum. A different view of Jews in Germany. BAMBOOZLED! – Hey! Neo-Nazis! Be careful what you purchase – Or, don’t wash what you buy! THE WALL: 50th ANNIVERSARY August 13th marked the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. The New York Times reported, “The Berlin Wall's construction 50 years ago must be a constant reminder to citizens today to stand up for freedom and democracy, the city's mayor said Saturday as a united Germany commemorated the bitter anniversary. Seeing Berlin divided by the wall tore apart the country as well as separating the city's streets, neighbors and families, Mayor Klaus Wowereit said at a televised ceremony. "It is our shared responsibility to keep the memory alive and to pass it on to the coming generations as a reminder to stand up for freedom and democracy to ensure that such injustice may never happen again," Wowereit said. The country was then divided for 28 years. Hundreds of east Germans were arrested while trying to flee to democratic Western Germany and at least 136 were killed trying to cross the wall.” Peter Schneider, a noted German writer also writing in the NY Times stated, “It will take a generation before the “wall in the mind” is overcome, but the process is under way. It is not merely about Westerners bringing Easterners into the fold; there is also what I call the “Easternization” of the West going on. Consider the career of Angela Merkel, a scientist from the East who became our first female chancellor. She did so not just by mastering the Western political structure, but in part by surreptitiously replanting left-wing, “Eastern” values — like social justice — in the garden of her party, the conservative Christian Democrats, and elevating their importance among the country as a whole.

2

It is fitting that Mrs. Merkel should be doing her political gardening in Berlin. Before the wall fell, it was nearly the only place where one could still feel the division between East and West. In the 20 years since, it has become the best place to watch that division disappear.” From a Jewish perspective the Wall made a tremendous difference. Likewise, its disappearance. When it went up the small Jewish communities in East Germany (DDR) were totally removed from those in the West. (FRG). Neither grew very much at all, however, those in the West did have connections with Israel and the other countries in the West. The tiny number of Jews in the DDR remained pretty much isolated. The disappearance of the Wall and the DDR as well changed things dramatically. The West Berlin Jewish community swallowed up that in the East. Once Jews started arriving in Germany (early 1990’s) some of the minute communities in the East gained new members and survive to this day. The larger communities in the West have grown larger yet. The total number of Jews in Germany (overall) has grown from 28,000 in 1989 when the Wall came down to probably over 200,000 today. Estimates as high as 250,000 are heard today. The disappearance of the Wall totally changed and re-energized Jewish life in Germany. GEMANIZING ISLAM No, I haven’t got it backwards. There is indeed an effort afoot to get Islamic leaders in Germany to better understand the country in which they live and to incorporate what they learn into their teaching and preaching in the Federal Republic’s mosques. . James Angelos writing in The Wall Street Journal (reprinted in Terminal X, an Arab website), notes, “Having given birth to the Protestant Reformation and the current pope, Germany is now at the fore of a broad effort to foster a European theological tradition for a relative newcomer: Islam. In a brightly lit university classroom in this small northwestern German city (Osnabrueck), some 30 German mosque leaders are participating in a governmentbacked course in inter-religious understanding. The experiment, one of many across the Continent, covers subjects ranging from the Reformation to the German constitution. Much of the resurgent popularity of Europe's far right in recent years has been fueled by populist fears that the rise of immigration in Europe—particularly in Muslim communities that remain connected to their native languages and cultures—is washing away European or national cultural identities.

3

Even in the political mainstream, there is a growing thought that laissez-faire efforts to absorb Muslim populations into European society have gone awry—with troubling political, socioeconomic and security consequences. In a now-famous speech last fall, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that multiculturalism in Germany had "utterly failed." French President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron have since echoed her remarks. By tutoring local mosque leaders within national university systems, European governments are increasingly trying to conform the practice of the faith with a sense of their national identities and post-Enlightenment values and traditions, or what some have taken to calling "Euro-Islam. Germany's government is granting five of its public universities up to €4 million ($5.7 million) each to develop Islamic theology programs. The Osnabrück experiment, the first German university course of its kind, has gained a great deal of attention. During a recent class, news cameras and reporters circled the students, men dressed neatly in suit jackets and a single row of head-scarved women. Among the seminar's revelations for Selman Yavuz, who leads a small Muslim congregation in western Germany, was that according to a Roman Catholic doctrine, the church holds Muslims in "esteem." "Many of us didn't know that they believe such good things about us," said Mr. Yavuz, 32 years old. "It changes your thinking." In Germany, the program is widely regarded as a paradigm-shifting if belated acknowledgment that Islam is now a permanent part of German life. Yet even as the government supports such initiatives, Germany's ruling class debates whether Islam "belongs in Germany," a conversation that began when German President Christian Wulff made the assertion that it does during a speech commemorating the 20th anniversary of German reunification. "We see this as a first step for the structural integration of Islam in Germany," said Erol Pürlü, a spokesman for the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany, an umbrella organization for several Islamic groups. But broader acceptance of the university programs by Germany's Muslims—who have roots in different countries and varying religious interpretations—is by no means certain. One challenge is that nearly 90% of the nation's imams come from abroad, particularly Turkey, and many promote an Islam that is "oriented to Turkey," said Rauf Ceylan, professor of religious sciences at the University of Osnabrück, and therefore "disturb the integration process."

4

With German consent, the Turkish government began sending imams to Germany in the 1980s, a decision fueled by concern that more conservative forms of Islamic teaching forbidden in Turkey were taking hold among Europe's Turkish diaspora. Today, some 900 mosques, about one-third of the total in Germany, are led by Turkish-state employees. These imams, Mr. Ceylan said, have trouble relating to a new generation of German Muslims because they often know little about German society when they arrive for periods of up to five years and speak little German. That's worrisome to German officials because it cedes much of the Germanlanguage Islamic discourse in the country to more hard-line preachers. Fundamentalist imams in Germany have had success appealing to younger Muslims, posting German-language sermons on You Tube and in rap music with messages specifically meant to appeal to youth. You need progressive imams that are young and eloquent like the radicals," Mr. Ceylan said. "But look at YouTube, and who is present?" he added. "The radicals are present, and not the progressive imams." If nothing else, you must consider this program fascinating and, if at all successful, tremendously valuable. I noticed on the Internet that quite a few Arabic websites have reprinted it. Of course, it has tremendous implications for the future of Islam. I wonder whether there’s some sort of American version that could be shaped and applied here. It would be very worthwhile. GERMAN SENSITIVITY & A GOEBBEL’S PHRASE My good friend and former colleague Rabbi A. James Rudin asked me recently whether I thought World War II and the Holocaust were slowly ebbing out of the German consciousness and sub-consciousness. It came up in a conversation we had about Germany’s relations with the poorer Euro nations and the possibility that the Germans were fed up supporting (almost by themselves) deficit countries and thinking about deserting them I said that I thought there was dissatisfaction with the support but that the wounds of WW II had not fully healed nor would they soon. Germany wants a unified Europe and if there is a lessening of the feeling of their responsibility it is only skin deep. The disaster for them of WW II is still close to the surface. As far as I can see, they have no desire to go it alone. Two disastrous defeats in 27 years put them on the road to Euro-unity. I doubt that they will be willing to take a detour any time soon. An example of how sensitive Germany still is about their horrendous 20th Century came up in the news a couple of weeks ago. Heiner Geissler (Spiegel On-Line) “A veteran German politician has got himself into hot water by repeating a phrase

5

attributed to Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels -- "Do you want total war?" Heiner Geissler, 81, the mediator in a bitter dispute over the reconstruction of the main railway station for the city of Stuttgart, uttered the words last Friday during an arbitration meeting between supporters and opponents of the project. He said he was trying to emphasize the need for a settlement. But media commentators have heaped criticism on him for using a phrase that sums up the fanaticism of Nazi Germany. The controversy shows how sensitive references to the war remain in German politics. "Even if Geissler is an old man, even if he enjoys being in the limelight -- borrowing phrases from Goebbels isn't acceptable," Frank Wahlig, a correspondent for influential public broadcaster ARD, said in a commentary. "He is of no use any more as a mediator for anything -- he should be enjoying his retirement and long walks. Far away from spotlights and any microphone." Goebbels put the question on Feb. 18, 1943 to an audience of Nazi faithful in Berlin's Sportpalast hall after the German army's defeat at Stalingrad, widely seen as the turning point of the war. It was an attempt to exhort the nation to even greater sacrifices. The answer from the audience was a frenetic "Ja!" I think the above story gives you the flavor of what lies below in the collective German mind. Even stronger is denial of the Holocaust. That is a criminal offense with jail time a likely result. Some sensitivities just don’t go away. THE PALESTINIANS, THE UN & GERMANY The general media is full of news and views regarding the upcoming UN meeting in September and the Palestinian plan to unilaterally seek statehood there. What we do not read much about is the role the EU might play. A piece recently appeared in Spiegel On-Line by Juliane von Mittelstaedt and Christoph Schult. In part it said, “So far only one European country, Germany, has spoken out publicly against the UN initiative. “Under no circumstances" do "unilateral recognitions" contribute to bringing about a two-state solution, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in April. Other European countries, like France, have signaled their approval. Once again, the European Union appears to be divided on a key foreign policy issue -- now, of all times, when the Europeans are playing a more important role than ever before. The United States is practically out of the picture as a middleman. With a presidential election looming, Obama will be unwilling to hazard a confrontation with Israel. "The Americans can't do it alone. We also need the Europeans," Israeli Prime

6

Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Catherine Ashton, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs. Ashton is now working on two arbitration efforts aimed at avoiding a conflict in the UN. The first is a joint statement by the Middle East quartet, consisting of the EU, the United States, Russia and the UN, which could serve as a starting point for negotiations. She cleverly cites UN Resolution 181 from 1947, which calls for the creation of a Jewish and an Arab state. If the Palestinians agreed, this could be portrayed as the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, thereby eliminating an important obstacle on the path to negotiations. But if the linguistic acrobatics are ineffective, an EU resolution could stop the Palestinian petition at the last minute. Instead of explicit recognition, this resolution would certify that the Palestinians had fulfilled all the requirements to form an independent state. It is becoming clearer that the Palestinians will either go to the Security Council where the U.S. (and Germany’s?) veto will defeat them or, possibly go directly to the General Assembly where they will have their status upgraded and settle for the sort of resolution that Lady Ashton is working on. As noted in an earlier edition, EU unity is of utmost importance to Germany. Therefore, if the final resolution has just enough about direct negotiations in it the Germans would probably vote for it along with the rest of the EU nations. My guess is that’s where we’re headed if Pres. Obama is unable to get the Palestinians to totally back off the UN strategy and go back to the bargaining table. The entire article is interesting. Click here to read it. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,778128,00.html SIX AMBASSADORS SPEAK UP While it appears that much of the German diplomatic and political elite are less than even lukewarm about Chancellor Merkel’s announced position in opposition to a Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood; there are at least six former German Ambassadors to Israel that support her position. Some months ago 32 former diplomats signed an open (and published) letter to the Chancellor demanding that she support the declaration. A few weeks ago JTA reported, “Several former German ambassadors to Israel applauded Chancellor Angela Merkel's refusal to endorse the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state at the United Nations in September. Addressing Merkel in a letter Tuesday, the six former ambassadors to Israel lashed out at 32 other retired German ambassadors and consuls who in an open letter in July had demanded that Merkel support the unilateral declaration.

7

The six envoys accused their colleagues of ignoring threats to Israel's existence and urged Merkel to stay the course. "Just as you have made it clear to [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin that unilateral steps will not help, we ask that you represent this position assertively within the European Union," their letter read in part. "The recognition of a Palestinian state is in our opinion only possible if it goes hand in hand with an explicit recognition and guarantee of the existence of the Jewish state." The open letter was released jointly by Jochen Feilcke, head of the Berlin-Potsdam branch of the German-Israel Society, and Lea Rosh, head of the Foundation for the Establishment of a Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Signing were retired German ambassadors to Israel Klaus Schutz, Niels Hansen, Wilhelm Haas, Franz Bertele, Theodor Wallau and Rudolf Dressler. In explaining the letter, Feilke and Rosh suggested that the "five percent of retired living German ambassadors" who had accused Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in their letter of "violating 'human rights'" were themselves guilty of a gross injustice. "Parts of the Palestinian leadership ignore the existence of Israel. Other parts of the Palestinian leadership openly advocate the destruction of Israel," Feilke and Rosh wrote. "Apparently former top German diplomats are indifferent to this situation." The 32 diplomats had argued that Merkel should recognize a Palestinian state in order to "end an unjust policy of occupation." "We will never be dissuaded from our recognition of our historical, German responsibility for the existence of Israel," their letter read in part. "This makes it even more painful for us when the government of Israel ignores important basic common principles shared by western civilization." Feilke and Rosh deserve great credit. Being willing to speak out against what seems like an overwhelming political movement for Palestinian state recognition takes guts. And, the six former ambassadors willing to oppose many of their former colleagues takes real courage. Israel is not without friends in Germany. BAN THE RIGHT? HOW ABOUT THE LEFT? Over the last several years I have written (more accurately “quoted”) a lot about the outlawing of the NPD, the neo-Nazi party in Germany. Now, as reported by The

8

Local, “A bitter dispute has erupted between the Christian Social Union, sister party to the ruling Christian Democratic Union, and the Left party, after CSU General Secretary Alexander Dobrindt called for an investigation into banning the leftists. The Left party leadership reacted angrily to Dobrindt's statement on Sunday, accusing the CSU leader of "hate tirades." Dobrindt told Sunday's Bild am Sonntag newspaper that Left party leader Gesine Lötzsch yearned for a path to communism, which is why the country's domestic intelligence agency, the Verfassungsschutz, should observe the Left party more closely. Dobrindt was referring to an article by Lötzsch entitled "Paths to Communism," published in the newspaper Junge Welt in January. "On this basis, we should re-assess whether the Left should be banned or not," he said. Dobrindt also called on Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit to declare that he would end the city's coalition government with the Left party if he is re-elected on September 18. Left party chairman Klaus Ernst responded by saying that such statements led to "a climate where right-wing extremists feel justified in attacking Left party offices in Berlin and elsewhere." "Whenever the CDU and the CSU are doing badly, some pitbull from the CSU comes along and acts as a crusader against the Left," added Ernst. "Dobrindt would be well-advised to limit his right-wing tendencies”. Bodo Ramelow, Left party leader in the state parliament of Thuringia, called Dobrindt's announcement an "outrageous statement." He added that the call was particularly objectionable because Germany's Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, also of the CSU, was currently doing everything he could to prevent a ban on the far-right National Democratic Party. Ulrich Maurer, deputy parliamentary leader of the Left party, said the CSU general secretary "has apparently not noticed that the Cold War finished over 20 years ago. That's a bit embarrassing." Of course, nothing will come of it and the Left Party (Die Linke) will continue on representing the extreme left wing in the Bundestag. One would think that the leaders of the CSU would find more productive avenues to follow other than trying to get an authorized party banished. After all, last year for the first time the CSU had to go into coalition in Bavaria because they could not garner a majority all by themselves. In addition, I think this kind of loose talk will make it more difficult to move against the NPD which for better reasons might merit a trip to political oblivion.

9

If you think Washington has it tough with two competing parties that refuse to cooperate, you should study the German system which has six and even the ones on the same side don’t always agree. Nothing’s easy! COLOGNE’S JEWISH PAST There are many museums throughout Germany that memorialize once thriving Jewish communities. Many (most?) deal primarily with Jewish life right before the Holocaust and sometimes go back a hundred years or so. Not in Cologne. The Forward reported, “This city in western Germany is banking its future on its Jewish past. But at present, the investment is exacting a heavy price: $52 million, to be exact. Following a divisive decades-long battle, Cologne’s municipal government voted recently to allocate that sum toward the construction of a new museum focused on the city’s medieval Jewish quarter. Its centerpiece will be the product of a massive excavation project that began in 2007 in the middle of the city, on the square in front of City Hall. For years the project had been dogged by opponents who said the country didn’t need another monument dedicated to the Jewish past or complained about the disruption that the project would create in Cologne, Germany’s fourth-largest city. But with Cologne’s decision to fund the museum, adding to the $18 million already allocated by the state government of North Rhine Westphalia, the city has made a decisive choice: to embrace its Jewish past to attract future tourists. “A city like Cologne, you always have to think about what you can present to bring new tourists,” said Cologne City Councilman Ralph Sterck, who voted in favor of the project, which passed by a two-thirds majority in the 90-member council. “We are proud of what we have for history, so we want to show the world.” The museum, which plans to open in 2015, will offer a new way of looking at German Jewish history, said Georg Quander, Cologne’s deputy mayor for cultural affairs. It was Quander who lobbied the City Council to provide the funding for the planned museum. “History is always an exchange between several cultures,” he said. “I think it’s very important to understand this. Maybe it’s more important than to separate them.”

10

The massive project to unearth Cologne’s medieval Jewish quarter began four years ago. The city had begun excavating its past decades ago, but until recently the focus was on its Roman quarter. Archeologists working on the Roman quarter actually threw away Jewish material that they had unearthed. But in the late 1980s the calls began for excavating the Jewish quarter, and in the 1990s some archeological work was done. For a long time, pedestrians could peer down through a glass pyramid on a city square and see the medieval mikvah, or ritual bath, that Cologne’s Jews had used hundreds of years ago. But the real work on the Jewish quarter did not begin until 2007. Archeologists early on uncovered evidence of a thriving merchants’ quarter where the Jews lived. They unearthed a synagogue that had been in use since the year 780 and the home of a goldsmith; both will be showcased in the new museum. At its peak in medieval times, the Jewish quarter housed about 1,000 people – the size of a small German city. It was the oldest Jewish community in Europe north of the Alps, and often enjoyed special privileges – such as when the Roman emperor Constantine decreed in the year 321 that Jews could be elected to the city council. When Jews were targeted during the Crusades, Cologne officials often protected the Jews by hiding them in fortresses and safe houses. In 1349, a pogrom in the midst of the Black Plague killed many of the city’s Jews. About 20,000 Jews lived in Cologne immediately before the Holocaust. About 40 percent emigrated before they could be deported to concentration camps. In addition to focusing on Jewish history, the museum also will spotlight the ruins of previous city halls and of Cologne’s Roman years. Artifacts on display will range from Roman bricks and pottery to a 1920s Seder plate found among the ashes from World War II. There is very little I can add to the above. Cologne is a beautiful city with a monumental cathedral – one of the great sights of Europe. Now, not very far away, a Jewish history museum will be highlighting an important part of the city’s history. My guess is, like the Jewish Museum in Berlin it will become one of the great stopping off places for Jews and non-Jews alike. Congrats to Cologne! BAMBOOZLED! One last thing! Under the headline “Neo-Nazis Bamboozled by Tricky T-shirts”, The Local reported, “Germans who brought T-shirts bearing a skull and right-wing flags back from a recent rock festival will soon find that the print has given way to a message urging them to mend their ways.

11

An association which seeks to help people break away from right-wing groups handed out 250 of these "Trojan" T-shirts at a right-wing rock festival in eastern Germany on Saturday. When the T-shirts are washed, the original print bearing the skull and motto "hardcore rebels" will be replaced by a new message, the Exit association announced on its internet site. "What your T-shirt can do so can you – we'll help you break with right-wing extremism," the new message will read.
Great idea! I’m getting T-shirts made up with “New York Times” printed on them. After washing they’ll read “Read DuBow Digest”. ****************************************************************************************************

12

13

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful