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GERMANY EDITION May 8, 2012 Dear Friends: I recently returned from the AJC’s Global Forum (formerly Annual Meeting) in Washington which was quite a great event. Not only did more than 1300 people attend, but the relationship that both Israel and the American Jewish community has with the Federal Republic of Germany were “front and center” items on the Forum agenda. AJC was honored to have two German Ministers at the meeting. Interior Minister Hans-Peter and Friedrich and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle both made presentations. While he spoke at the meeting, more importantly Friedrich requested that AJC pull together a group of leading American authorities on the question of immigration so that ideas on the issue could be shared. He spoke and participated with a group of 20 such outstanding authorities. The exchange of viewpoints was highly interesting. The Global Forum’s most important event is the evening session of the second day of the three day meeting. Foreign Minister Westerwelle made the first and most important speech that night. In reading this, one should understand that, unlike those of us who have long been involved in the German – Jewish dialogue, many American Jews have unsettled opinions about Germany. The Holocaust is never very far away and German criticism of Israel, no matter how legitimate it might be, is seen in negative terms. I don’t think there is any doubt that Westerwelle’s speech did a great deal to put the


anxieties of some of the most anxious to rest. He stated, “It is on the firm foundation of remembrance and shared ideals that Germany maintains its unique relationship with the State of Israel. The roots of our relationship lie in the past: Together with Israel we are committed to preserving the memory of the Holocaust for future generations and to countering anti-Semitism across the globe. Our relationship is forward looking. Germany and Israel are partners and friends. We are partners and friends because Israel is a vibrant democracy. To this day, Israel is the only full-fledged democracy in the region. I am proud that today German-Israeli ties are closer and stronger than ever. We want to see Israel as a respected neighbor in a Middle East that is finally at peace. And yet the Iranian regime continues to threaten Israel with annihilation. I want you to know that we will continue to stand by Israel's side. We will not remain silent when Israel is threatened or its legitimacy called into question. We will stand up whenever Israel is unfairly singled out in multilateral fora. And we will denounce any incitement against the State of Israel and its right to exist. You can read the entire speech by clicking here. It hit the right note. c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=8079159&ct=11740663 Internally at the Forum there was an open meeting of the Board of the Berlin Office (Ramer Institute) where AJC’s Berlin Director Deidre Berger updated an overflow audience on the agency’s programs. In addition, German Ambassador Peter Ammon hosted a dinner at the Embassy Residence for 40 AJC leaders. A second meeting attended by former participants in the AJC – Konrad Adenauer Foundation Exchange Program discussed the activation of the now close to 400 American Jews who have been on the Exchange during the last 31 years. Incidentally, I will be accompanying the 32nd annual group this year. I arrive in Berlin on May 16th and will be there until the 27th. Though I will be busy with the group, if any of you have time for a brief meeting, please call Lena Altman at the AJC Office (030) 226-5940. Let’s get on with the news… IN THIS EDITION THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT – A major change in makeup. Will policies change?


POLLS: U.S. & ISRAEL – Leaders in both countries continue to lead - Netanyahu among Israelis and Obama among American Jews. THE HOLIDAYS – Jews argue about everything – even about what should be considered a holiday. NAZIS – AMERICAN VARIETY – A neo-Nazi lobbyist in Washington. Who could believe it! THE PEACE TALKS: A MORE DISTANT DREAM - A noted authority looks at the future. OBAMA & THE JEWS: AN UPDATE - Six months until the election. U.S. GRANT & THE JEWS – A great Civil War General discriminates. An important moment in American Jewish history THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT By the time you read this you will have already seen or read in your own media that the Israeli government has undergone a major change. Without question, it now has a very wide ruling coalition that can legitimately be considered a “government of national unity”. With the inclusion of the Kadima Party headed by former Gen. Shaul Mofaz, changes across the board, domestically and in foreign policy, can be expected. The early 2012 elections have been called off and the 2013 scheduled timing has been restored. The Jerusalem Post noted, “Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kadima chair Shaul Mofaz highlighted four priorities for their unity government on Tuesday, emphasizing with each the importance of acting "responsibly." The first priority will be "replacing the Tal Law with a historic, just and equal solution" to integrating the haredim [Ed. Note: Orthodox] into army service. The second is to develop a "responsible budget addressing security, economic and social issues." The third is "changing the structure of government" so that government's serving out their terms will be "the rule and not the exception." The fourth is to "move forward responsibly in the peace process." It is much too early to envisage what sort of policy the newly formed government might have in terms of the peace process. Whatever it is, the internal issues, as Netanyahu pointed out, are the primary ones that have to be faced first. Since Kadima is more centrist than Netanyahu’s Likud Party one might reasonably


expect that there will be more emphasis on attempting to get the peace process restarted. The extreme right will have less power. However, it does take “two to tango” and so the Palestinians will hopefully reassess their own position which at present seems to be aimed primarily at obtaining some sort of national recognition from the United Nations instead of focusing on direct negotiations with Israel. It’s a little early in the game; however, with the UN General Assembly meeting coming up in the fall, we will have to see how serious the Palestinians will be in trying out the negotiating table once again. POLLS: U.S. & ISRAEL In the last ten days, two important poll results were published which give a good idea of where the Jewish populations of both the U.S. and Israel stand. In terms of American Jews, AJC released a poll of American Jewish attitudes and the 2012 election. JTA reported, “President Obama enjoys the support of three-fifths of American Jews, according to the latest American Jewish Committee survey, a significant improvement over where he stood half a year ago in the organization’s polling. The poll, released Monday, shows Obama with 61 percent of the Jewish vote, as opposed to 28 percent for Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is the likely Republican nominee. That’s an improvement for the president over a previous AJC survey in September, when Obama scored 50 percent and Romney 32 percent. But it’s still substantially lower than the 78 percent Obama scored among Jews in exit polls in 2008 and an improvement for Romney over the 22 percent garnered by the previous GOP nominee, John McCain. The AJC's new findings are similar to those of the Public Religion Research Institute in March. That poll showed Obama scoring 62 percent of the Jewish vote, as opposed to 30 percent for a GOP candidate. In the AJC poll, respondents identified the economy and health care as by far the two most important election issues. Among respondents who attend synagogue at least once a week, only 52 percent said they would vote for Obama, likely reflective of the more conservative leanings of Orthodox voters. The 11 percent of respondents who were undecided in the AJC poll said they leaned toward Romney and Obama in roughly equal numbers. Romney, for his part, struggles with high negative ratings from Jews, with 57 percent saying they have an unfavorable view of him. He is, however, far more popular with


Jews than his previous top two GOP primary opponents; Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are each viewed unfavorably by around three-quarters of Jews. There is more to the JTA report which you can read by clicking here. In addition, you can read the entire AJC report by clicking here. c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=2818289&ct=11734167&notoc=1 The Times of Israel reports on a survey done in Israel by then Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth. It noted, “…the Likud party would likely take 30 Knesset seats in upcoming elections, enough to keep Netanyahu in power. However, a significant shuffle of party seats can be expected in the elections that are likely to be held this fall. This report is followed by a list of parties that might gain or lose seats. If you’re interested you can read it by clicking here. The point of both polls is if the elections in the U.S. and Israel were held today the respective Jewish communities would vote as they did the last time with some variations is the percentages. In spite of Obama going from 78% which was probably unsustainable no matter what, he is still poised to get the lion’s share of Jewish votes. As far as Netanyahu is concerned, while there may be unhappiness and hostility toward him outside of Israel (and to a degree inside of Israel) it appears that he will maintain his position as Prime Minister with substantial enough backing to continue the policies that he began since taking office. Those policies and his position remain the choices of the nation which come about through open and democratic elections. The addition of Kadima to the coalition insures continuity in office but we will have to wait and see about policy changes. THE HOLIDAYS I have pointed out more than once that the Jewish people are a fractious bunch. They argue about everything – especially with each other. One of the most recurring of the arguments regards the adoption of holidays that revolve around the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. It is a fact that many Arabs are Israeli citizens. That only adds to the heat of the dispute especially when it comes to the singing of the national anthem. Alex Joffe writing in Jewish Ideas Daily noted, “Every spring, within a single week,


Israel commemorates Yom Hashoah, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Ha'atzma'ut. These days revisit the core drama of the modern Jewish experience: the Holocaust, the losses suffered by Israel in its early wars, and the country's present independence. These days are also among the most controversial in the Israeli calendar. With adjustments for Shabbat, Independence Day is celebrated on May 14. Certain ultra-religious Jews have long protested the occasion. The Neturei Karta have declared it a "day of mourning for Torah-faithful Jews" and burn Israeli flags in protest. The next day, May 15, is commemorated by Palestinians as "Nakba Day," the day of "catastrophe." It is entirely negative: It mourns Palestinian dispossession at the hands of the Jews rather than celebrating any idea of Palestinian nationalism. Nakba Day speaks volumes about Palestinian political psychology. There are also protests against Independence Day from within Israel, from Israeli Arabs—that is, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship—and leftist Israelis who want Israel to be a "state for all its citizens." This critique parallels the criticism of Israel's national anthem, "Hatikvah": The state, say the critics, celebrates the experience of the majority and further alienates the minority. Independence Day is especially vexing to non-Israeli leftist commentators, who see in it a means of repression. One journalist recently said, "If I was [sic] a Palestinian citizen of the state, I don't think I would want to participate in the torch-lighting. I would also find the inclusion of Arabs to be dishonest, a way of whitewashing the reality of life here as a minority. . . . Independence and freedom here mean independence and freedom for Jews." The objection that Yom Ha'atzma'ut and Hatikvah are insufficiently inclusive or representative of all citizens fails the comparative test. A nation-state frequently begins with one group that subsequently defines its culture and politics. Nearly every independence or national day depicts the specific journey of a specific people, which is then musically celebrated—with usually martial and sometimes mixed results. It is the specificity of those experiences that gives most nations the core of their identity, which is then broadened by law, culture, and experience. There is more to the article which can be accessed by clinking here. I believe (without a scientific survey) that most American Jews think of Israel as a Jewish state – exclusively. The Neturei Karta are an anti-Israel, small, extreme Orthodox group that most American Jews are not even aware of. Their argument with Israel is theological. The burning of Israeli flags is stupid and so far from the mainstream that it is totally beyond the pale. However, in a democracy people are free to say what they want and to demonstrate as long as there is no disturbing of the peace or violence.


In Israel nothing’s easy. NAZIS – AMERICAN VARIETY The Federal Republic of Germany is not the only country with an out front neo-Nazi party. The good old United States of America has its 21st Century version as well. It was recently reported by Y-Net News that, “The American Nazi Party has evidently registered its own lobbyist on Capitol Hill, 2008 National Socialist Movement presidential candidate John Taylor Bowles, US News reported Friday. According to a registration form found by US News, Bowles signed up with the Clerk of the House as a lobbyist on Tuesday. As per the form, he registered as a lobbyist in order to promote issues relating to "Political Rights and ballot access laws." The form also reportedly cites accounting, agriculture, clean air and water, civil rights, health issues, the Constitution, immigration, manufacturing, and retirement as "general lobbying issue areas." When asked if he believed a member of Congress would agree to meet with him, he told the newspaper: "I don't see why not. Of course I won't approach anybody in Congress unless it's a very interesting issue or law. I'm going to be very careful about the issues I choose for this." According to a follow-up published by Business Insider, Bowles associated with a variety of Neo-Nazi parties and splinter groups between 1977 and today. His 2008 presidential platform for the neo-Nazi National Socialist movement promised "free healthcare, free college education, zero interest mortgages, decent paying jobs, very low taxes, crime free neighborhoods, low gasoline prices, a healthy social security system, and to be able to have enough time to enjoy life!” He suggested that in order to achieve these goals, the US must "stop wasting white taxpayer dollars on third world countries, no-win wars, and foreign aid to Israel white taxpayer dollars belong in white taxpayers pockets!" In posts that he published on the National Socialist Order of America party blog "National Director," Bowels offered a variety of anti-Semitic rants around the same time he ran for president. "People who spread lies and rumors are no different than the Jew," he wrote in one entry. "How can we combat such actions? Always get both sides of a story. Never spread something you hear. We must not allow deception and lies to get the better of us, instead (sic) we must question everything. The best Decisions are made after


all information has been gathered. This is how we can stay strong and this is how we will destroy the JEW." He also used to display a coffin with a skeleton in it accompanied by a sign that said "Race-mixing = death." A large part of his platform was his program for sending back different ethnic and racial groups to their country of origin. According to the Business Insider, Bowles' e-mails were allegedly hacked by the One People's Project, an anti-fascist activist group on the web. The messages included much wrangling about what it takes to make National Socialism a success in America, and who really is a Nazi and who is just a "racist come-along." Recounting a joint appearance with the Ku Klux Klan, Bowles wrote: "One family said I should have mentioned the time I dumped a bucket of water on Oprah Winfrey in the 1970′s in my campaign platform. If White voters knew that I would have instantly got a million votes." Of course, Bowles is more of a joke in the U.S. “The American Nazi Party” practically does not exist here except for very few extremists who, I am sure, rank high on the FBI’s list of those that have to be watched. I am sure Mr. Bowles will get quite a bit of publicity and will be widely denounced. I am not happy with the denouncements because the publicity plays right into his hands. We certainly could do without it. There are times when the anti-Nazi laws in Germany are criticized as being undemocratic (in U.S. terms). However, when a Bowles appears on the public scene in our own nation’s capital I think our own democracy is little too democratic. I guess that in order to keep the U.S. democratic we have to take the bad with the good. By the way, since Bowles is listed as a lobbyist, and the job of lobbyists is to meet with legislators, I wonder how many of them will actually be willing to meet with him. My guess is “none”. THE PEACE TALKS: A MORE DISTANT DREAM Many knowledgeable observers of the Israeli – Palestinian peace process (and many more not so knowledgeable which certainly includes me) have looked at the situation and decided that nothing will happen anytime soon. The recent Quartet plus one talks produced nothing new. “Get back to the table” is not new or even very serious as the parties are so far apart. In addition Prime Minister Netanyahu’s offer to have face to face (with the two faces not liking each other) negotiations with President Abbas also had a hollow ring to it.


Abbas’ reply that negotiations had to have the precondition of complete stop of building in the West Bank was also a non-starter. So, we’re back to where we started from and nothing will be forthcoming from Washington while Pres. Obama is in election mode running for a second term. I frequently quote from the writings of Aaron David Miller who is certainly in the “knowledgeable” camp. He always seems to be the ultimate realist. In an article in Miller postulates that if Obama wins a second term, he might turn some of his energies toward the Israel – Palestinian issue. Noting that most prior Presidents have tried their hand at in their first terms – and failed, he states, “Let's assume for the sake of this thought experiment that Obama does decide that nothing is more important to his second term than Israeli-Palestinian peace (a dubious assumption, but I'll humor myself). And let's further stipulate that he's determined to find a way forward. Domestic politics will be the least of the obstacles that stand in his way, truly more a speed bump than a Mount Everest. A willful president is critical to success. But more important is the situation in the region and the calculations of Arabs and Israelis. Today, three challenges impede a two state solution: an Israeli prime minister who's very far from either Obama's or the Palestinian position on a deal, a divided Palestinian national movement, and the uncertainties of an Arab Spring that will further limit Israel's flexibility. All will still be there in 2013. And then there's Iran. Assuming we get through the end of this year without an Israeli military strike (a pretty good bet) or a negotiated solution (another safe wager), the nuclear issue will be front and center in January 2013. I believe Obama really cares about the Israeli-Palestinian issue; I also think he's terribly frustrated by the lack of progress and holds Israel, specifically Netanyahu, primarily responsible. He'd really like to get tough. At the same time, Obama has proven himself to be a cautious, pragmatic, and deliberate man. Like FDR, he wanted to be a transformative political figure and alter the trajectory of American domestic and foreign policy. But his nature is more the transactor and the dealmaker. That's who he is. The president isn't a man of any extreme -- the community organizer; campus radical, alien president trope is a bunch of partisan mumbo jumbo. What's important about Obama's storyline is Harvard Law School, the U.S. Senate, two best-selling books, and succeeding in American politics. To do so, let alone become president, he had to be a man of the system. When it comes to the Arab-Israeli issue, a second term is more likely to see Obama the unchanged, not the unchained. He's plenty frustrated by Netanyahu. But Obama lacks FDR's partisan toughness and fight; public anger doesn't come naturally, nor does going for the jugular. Instead, he's a compromiser always looking for middle


ground and balance, even when it seems naive. That's where his vision of the truth (and solutions) lie. Every administration is different, but there's a reason the second term doesn't produce unchained presidents throwing their weight and influence around. First, they don't have as much of either. The first day after Inauguration 2.0, two clocks start ticking: the legacy clock and the lame-duck clock. The first measures what a president can accomplish in the time he has left with the street cred and reputation he's developed; the second watches those assets slip away. It's a race, really. Presidents and their staffs also get tired, are scandal-prone, and start making mistakes in a second term (see: Reagan and Iran-Contra; Clinton and Monica Lewinsky). And then there's the problem of how America's allies and adversaries perceive the president's waning power. Arafat's decision to pass up Clinton's proposals on final-status deals in December 2000 was clearly driven partly by his galactic miscalculation that he'd get a better deal and a tougher line against Israel from the son of George H.W. Bush. The fact that Obama won't get a third term may even work against him. Beginning Jan. 21, if not Nov. 5, the Arabs and the Israelis will begin to take the measure of a president who now has a guaranteed expiration date. If there's anything the locals are really good at, it's evasion, delay, and maneuver in the face of initiatives they don't like. And they'll be taking Barack Obama's measure to see how serious he really is. What they'll conclude, of course, depends on how the president behaves. But the obstacles standing in the way of a two-state solution are formidable and growing. More than likely, the second-term illusion will remain just that. And in assessing Obama's intentions, credibility, and drive on Middle East peace, the Arabs and Israelis may well conclude that if it swims, has feathers, and quacks, it's more than likely a duck -- and a lame one at that. Of course nobody can predict the future including Dr. Miller. However, the road map into the future he provides us with is, in my opinion, about as logical and accurate as anyone’s since it is based on his closeness to the players involved and the length (and depth) of his experience. I generally agree with him. If, however, Mitt Romney wins the presidency we will be a totally different starting point. Romney and the Republican Party are much closer to the more conservative political elements in Israel (Netanyahu especially) and so a major American push for a solution to the Israel – Palestinian situation would seem even further away than with a re-elected Pres. Obama. If I had to venture a guess I’d say we’re in for a continuation of the current situation in 2013 and beyond.


Click here to read the entire Miller article. OBAMA & THE JEWS: AN UPDATE Now that Mitt Romney has all but nailed down the Republican nomination for President the real campaign has begun. (It’s a good question as to whether the last 3 ½ years counts for anything.). Not that there was a shortage of articles previously about how American Jews will vote, more are beginning to surface practically every moment. Michael Tomasky writing on the liberal website The Daily Beast notes, “Amidst all the speculation (including my own) that Barack Obama should be able to dispatch Mitt Romney without too-strenuous exertions, and despite the president’s moving speech at the Holocaust Museum on Monday, we would do well to remind ourselves that Obama is having trouble with Jewish voters. A recent poll puts his support at middling levels, good enough to carry New York and California (obviously), but maybe not Florida. The poll result suggests one of the notable failures of his term: He moved into the White House clearly thinking that he could completely reset and reframe U.S.-Israeli relations, and even reset and reframe the very idea of what it means to be pro-Israel. This was and is an extremely worthy project, but it has proven to be a hell of a lot harder than he thought it would. And so he has—for the time being at least—given up on the project, now that he needs the votes. The poll, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in early April, found that 62 percent of 1,004 American Jews surveyed said that they would vote for Obama. That sounds like an agreeable enough figure until you recall that he got 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008. Some news organizations, showing either really horrible memories or dreaded liberal bias, tried to soften the disparity by pointing out that Obama was about at this same level in support among Jews “at the same point during Obama’s first run.” But if you spend four seconds thinking back on the events of that campaign, you recall that April 2008 was the height of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright affair, and thus the one point that was likely to be Obama’s nadir with Jews. Can he gain back 16 points by November? I think he can probably gain back half just because Romney will run too much to his base, which will alienate liberal and moderate Jews. They’ll say, “What the hell, Obama’s not so bad.” But getting those next eight points will be tough, maybe impossible, work, and this is where Obama’s very grand—and very dashed—hopes for a Middle East reset come into the picture. There is more mostly about how Obama got to where he is with the Jewish community and some thoughts about the future. You can read it all by clicking here.

11 I’m not enough of a guru about election numbers to know if Tomasky is right or wrong. However, I do think his figures are reasonable. As to whether Obama will be an “easy winner”, I think he is a bit more optimistic than I am. I believe it will be a tough race taking into consideration that the winner must get more electoral votes than the loser – not popular votes. If you’re not clear about electoral votes or the Electoral College click here for an explanation – or to get more confused. U.S. GRANT & THE JEWS Since part of my goal in publishing the Germany Edition of this newsletter is to give my non-Jewish readers some insights into the American Jewish community, it is well that I occasionally offer a little history to help that understanding along. During the long history of Jews in the U.S. there was only one time that the Jews as a group were specifically discriminated against by a high national government official. It happened during the Civil War and the perpetrator was the great General (later President) Ulysses S. Grant. Many books on the occurrence have been written but recently a new one has been published. In a review by Jane Henderson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, she wrote, “In "When General Grant Expelled the Jews," Jonathan D. Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, writes about how Ulysses S. Grant, blaming Jews for smuggling and cotton speculation, kicked them out of the Department of the Tennessee, an area from northern Mississippi to Cairo, Ill. It what appears to be excerpted from or based on the book on Slate, Sarna writes: “Americans today are often surprised to learn that Ulysses S. Grant once expelled “Jews as a class” from his war zone. It seems incredible that he could blame Jews for the sins of smugglers and traders—most of whom were not actually Jewish at all —and expel them from the entire territory under his command. Some Jews at the time wondered whether their new homeland was coming to resemble anti-Semitic Europe at its worst. In the end, only a small number of Jews were seriously affected by General Orders No. 11. Within hours of its issuance, Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest staged a daring raid that tore up rail and telegraph lines around Grant’s headquarters at Holly Springs, Miss. The resulting breakdown in communications meant that news of General Orders No. 11 spread slowly. But the orders on Dec. 17, 1862, actually had long-lasting effects. For one thing, President Lincoln revoked them, and reassured Jewish leaders:


In a follow-up meeting with Jewish leaders, Lincoln reaffirmed that he knew “of no distinction between Jew and Gentile.” “To condemn a class,” he emphatically declared, “is, to say the least, to wrong the good with the bad. I do not like to hear a class or nationality condemned on account of a few sinners.” In short order, attention returned to the battlefield, where, within a year, Grant’s victory at Vicksburg elevated him to the status of a national hero. Also, the lesson Grant learned affected his own presidency, Sarna writes: Still later, during the eight years of Grant’s presidency, memories of General Orders No. 11 surfaced repeatedly. Eager to prove that he was above prejudice, Grant appointed more Jews to public office than any of his predecessors, and, in the name of human rights, extended unprecedented support to persecuted Jews in Russia and Romania. Time and again, partly as a result of his enlarged vision of what it meant to be an American and partly in order to live down General Orders No. 11, Grant consciously worked to assist Jews and secure them equality. Growing up in the 1930’s and 1940’s Gen. Grant was one of my boyhood heroes. It was only in adult life that I read about General Orders No.11. At first I was devastated. However, as I have grown older I have come to realize that what he did came mostly from the frustrations of the war and an absolute lack of intimate knowledge about the small Jewish community then in the U.S. Whatever was going through his mind in 1862 was certainly changed by the time he became President. I myself grew up with more than a few sweeping hostilities towards certain groups, Germans among them. However, personal contacts plus improved knowledge and understanding have changed me. So, Gen. Grant, in my mind, has been restored to hero status – where he belongs. Another interesting review can be accessed by clicking here. ******************************************************************************************** Since I’ll be in Germany for a good part of May, the next edition will come to you in early June. DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted by clicking here Both the American and Germany editions are posted at Click here to connect



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