GERMANY EDITION June 26 2012 Dear Friends: With Germany’s attention so deeply entrenched in the future of the eurozone

and American Jewish attention so focused on our own economic situation, the upcoming November election and developments surrounding Egypt and the Middle East, no one in either country seems to have any energy to address American Jewish – German relations. With no major problems on the agenda or the horizon, I’m thankful. I love boring, peaceful times. The summer in the U.S. usually brings some modicum of rest, relaxation and a “get away from it all” attitude. Believe me! It’s the calm before the storm and by the time you get around to reading this the American political scene may be turned on its ear. Any minute now the U.S. Supreme Court is to rule on the constitutionality of Pres. Obama’s major health care legislation, the Affordable Care Law – known to those who oppose the President as “Obamacare”. No matter how the ruling comes down, the political battle over universal health care coverage of Americans by law will become grist for the political warfare mills. It has become the Gettysburg of today’s political United States. (If you don’t know what the battle of Gettysburg was, Google it.) Most Germans I speak to don’t understand how health care coverage can be a political football. To those I say – you don’t understand how split the American political scene is. We are living in a difficult time in American life. There does not seem to be a “middle”. You’re either right or left, Republican or Democrat and compromise seems to have been removed from the political lexicon. Many rational Americans don’t understand it either. However, we’re in the middle of it. (pun intended) The political warfare has a Jewish component as well. The Republican – Democratic battle over who is more sympathetic to and supportive of Israel rages within the general political war. We need that, as my grandmother would say, like a “loch in Kopf”. I think that’s enough complaining. Let’s get on with the news… IN THIS EDITION EGYPT – How will it affect Israel? ISRAELIS & THE SETTLEMENTS – How the Israelis themselves feel about them. A Poll.


A LONGER RANGE VIEW – Middle East peace down the road? Don’t count on it. SMALL CONGREGATIONS – Changing demographics. What plans do smaller communities have to maintain a Jewish presence? GERMAN MILITARY IN ISRAEL – No! Not the Bundeswehr. NEW YORK JEWRY – An important demographic study. THE TURKISH FLOTILLA - WHERE THE FAULT LIES. – Only in a democracy! EGYPT Since Egypt is Israel’s largest, most populace and most important neighbor, what happens there is always of primary importance, not only to Israelis, but to American Jews as well. Maybe everybody! The election of Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for President, is a landmark event. Since, at this writing, he has been the Presidentelect for about 24 hours it’s difficult to know what the implications of his election are. However, we do know that he has (AP News) “a daunting struggle for power with the country's still-dominant military rulers who took over after Mubarak's ouster in the uprising. Just days before a winner was announced, the ruling generals made a series of decisions that gave them sweeping powers, undercutting the authorities of the president, including passing the state budget and granted military police broad powers to detain civilians. Two days before the runoff, a decision by a top Egyptian court packed with former regime appointees also dissolved the country's first freely elected parliament, dominated by Islamists, including Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. This left the military council also in charge of legislating duties. So, what are the Israelis concerned about? Even with a weak president there are current and down the road issues to be considered. First, Morsi has publicly reached out to Iran, Israel’s sworn enemy. You already know about Iran’s threat to wipe Israel from the face of the earth. No further explanation is needed. Morsi has stated that Egypt will stick to the commitment it made in its peace treaty with Israel. At the moment the Egyptian military has more to say about this than Morsi so it’s not an immediate problem.


However, violence and terrorism coming from Egyptian controlled Sinai has been increasing and that is a deep concern. Another terrorism problem concerns the natural gas pipeline that runs from Egypt to Israel. That has been blown up several times. It is definitely something to worry about. The Muslim Brotherhood connection to Hamas in Gaza is certainly another issue that will have to be watched. Right now arms and explosives are being smuggled through Egypt to the Sinai and then on to Gaza. Might a more Islamic led Egypt make the transit of such goods easier? Whatever else you want to say about Mubarak (and there is much to say) he kept the Israel – Egypt border peaceful. Who knows whether Morsi will be able to do the same? Everybody, including the editor of this newsletter, will be watching the situation in Egypt closely. The Morsi election result in no way solves the country’s problems. With only slightly more than a 50% majority in the voting, a parliament that is on hold, a military that has given itself ruling powers and an economic situation that is dire, Pres. Morsi will have his hands full. How will it all turn out? Stay tuned! ISRAELIS & THE SETTLEMENTS As a good journalist I think it is required that I present all points of view on all issues that affect Jews so that you get a well rounded view of how both American Jews and Israeli Jews look at them. Knowing the unhappiness many in Germany and Europe view the Settlement situation I thought it important to give you some insight into how the Israelis themselves view it. Israel Hayom, Israel’s largest newspaper recently published the results of a poll on the subject. It reported, “A new poll suggests Israelis have shifted politically rightward, and have a more favorable view of the settlement enterprise and settlers in general compared with previous years. The full findings of the survey, conducted by the Maagar Mohot Institute for Dr. Miriam Billig and Dr. Udi Label of the Ariel University Center of Samaria, will be published on Thursday during a conference organized by the Samaria and the Jordan Rift Regional R&D Center. The poll sampled 568 respondents who live within the Green Line. According to the poll, 64 percent of respondents said they support continued settlement activity in Judea and Samaria [Ed. Note: Known to most as the West Bank] . Only 15% said they would support a full moratorium on settlement construction, down 20% from the previous year.


A sizeable proportion still supports some kind of an Israeli pullout from Judea and Samaria and more than a third (36%) would support a partial or full annexation of the disputed areas, captured during the 1967 Six-Day War. Fourteen percent would like to see the continuation of the current status quo in Judea and Samaria. Fortytwo percent say the hilltop youth (who allegedly carry out vandalism against Arabs and IDF troops to protest terrorism and government policy on outposts) are a serious obstacle, with 22% saying settler leaders must have zero tolerance toward that phenomenon and combat other forms of unlawful behavior. When asked if they would support a unilateral Israeli evacuation of the area without first reaching an agreement with the Palestinians, only 5% said they were in favor. The researchers note a marked shift in the public's willingness to see an Israeli withdrawal in exchange for full peace compared to past surveys on this issue, with 46% saying they would oppose any territorial concessions, up from 38% in 2009 (the question did not refer to east Jerusalem). About 73% of those who gave an answer said the two-state solution would not further peace or would at most only prevent a short term escalation (up from 64% in 2011). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's popularity among non-settlers is also on the rise. Last year less than half of respondents (49%) said they would prefer the incumbent premier to represent Israel at the negotiating table and sign a peace agreement with the Palestinians, but this figure climbed to 58% in 2012. Asked if Netanyahu positively affected U.S. President Barack Obama's policy on settlements, respondents were split down the middle. In reading and trying to understand the poll results one should keep in mind that Israel is democratic country with an open press. No government twisted results here. The results are the results whether one likes them or not. There is no question that the Jewish population of Israel (20% are Arabs) has politically moves right. However, several weeks ago P.M. Netanyahu welcomed the Kadima, a center left party, and its leader former General Shaul Mofaz into the ruling coalition. This move, in many ways, gave Israel a “grand coalition” and lessened the influence of the hard right and religious parties in government decision making. Many believe that the Settlement issue, while enormously important, is overshadowed currently by the perceived threat Israel is under from the possibility of Iran having a nuclear bomb. Some pundits believe that P.M. Netanyahu would welcome a return to the bargaining table with the Palestinians but because of the weakness of Pres. Abbas and his Fatah faction Abbas cannot chance it. Abbas has chosen the path of trying to legitimate Palestine through the UN although that will probably not get him anything except, perhaps, some sort of paper victory. This


strategy has not endeared him to the Israeli public and so there is more and more positive backing to the strengthening and building of settlements. A LONGER RANGE VIEW Elliot Abrams is a conservative commentator and former Republican government official. Some people like his political stance, some don’t. He is very critical of Pres. Obama and the Democrats. However, no matter how you look at him, no one can argue with the fact that he is a genuine authority on Israel and the Middle East. In a Foreign Policy article entitled “Processing Delay” he most interestingly looks at the long range possibilities for the re-starting of the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In the piece he notes, “…the so-called "peace process" will enter its 46th year on June 10. For it was on that day in 1967 that a cease-fire in the Six-Day War was declared, leaving Israel in possession of the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai, the Golan Heights, and Jerusalem but divided over what to do with its newfound gains. Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1982 and from Gaza in 2007 and no one is discussing the Golan these days due to Syria's internal crisis. But the future of Jerusalem and the West Bank remains a matter of intense international -- including American -- diplomatic effort. While professional peacemakers may want to get negotiations going again, the inconvenient truth is that none of the parties to this conflict have adequate incentives to take serious political risks right now. Forget about reaching a final settlement for the next year and likely far longer -- neither the situation on the ground nor the politics in Israel and among the Palestinians makes it at all likely. Abrams goes into the history of all the attempts to get a peace process going and why they failed. He then explains why, currently, in his opinion, the Palestinians are not in any position to have internal elections or to partake in negotiations. He states, “Elections aren't even the toughest challenge such a coalition [Hamas & Fatah] would face. Security tops the list. Who would lead the Palestinian Authority's various forces? Who can expect Hamas to disarm when it has never been defeated by Fatah, either in combat or at the ballot box? Because "national unity" is widely popular among Palestinians, Abbas and Hamas will keep at it and may even briefly achieve a "unity government" -- but it won't last. Even a short-lived unity government with Hamas would doom any chance of a negotiation with Israel, but that doesn't bother Abbas. He can't see a way to climb down from his demand for a construction freeze, and he doesn't have high hopes for negotiations in the first place. Negotiations demand compromises, and he knows that any he makes will immediately be denounced by Hamas as treason. Meanwhile, he's not in a good position for serious talks with Israel anyway. His minister for negotiations, Saeb Erekat, had a heart attack this spring, and the other


old negotiating hands -- former Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and PLO SecretaryGeneral Yasser Abed Rabbo -- are out of favor. The EU does not fare well in Abrams’ opinion when it comes to their view of Israel. He writes, “The prevalence of anti-Israel views among the European left also helps explain why EU governments are increasingly critical of Israel. This is a dangerous development for Israel, but one over which it has little control. The Israelis cannot ignore Europe because of its economic importance to them: 30 percent of Israeli exports go to the European Union. So they are condemned to fighting efforts at boycotts and divestment year after year, country by country, battle by battle, and one need only chat with any Israeli ambassador in Europe to discover how difficult, and how tinged with anti-Semitism, those battles now are. He concludes by saying, “Combine all these factors, and it becomes clear that there are few reasons for Netanyahu or Abbas to take risks to revive the "peace process." If not dead, it is dormant, quiescent, moribund -- choose your synonym. Any remotely likely change will leave Abbas worse off than he is today. Whatever action Netanyahu might take would bring enormous political problems in Israel and few gains outside it. Sooner or later Israelis will have to once again make decisions about their relations with the Palestinians, but not while the outcomes of the "Arab Spring," the Iranian nuclear program, and the U.S. presidential election remain unclear. While I am not usually in synch with Elliot Abrams” political views (You may have guessed that) I think his article is one of the most perceptive and correct in thinking that, at least for the time being, the peace negotiations are not going anywhere. There is just no incentive for anyone to do anything until at least 2013 – if then. The best we can hope for is that there not be any violence or intimidation that make things even more difficult than they already are. We have to continue to hope that somewhere down the road the situation will turn for the better. You can read the entire Abrams article by clicking here SMALL CONGREGATIONS Changing demographics and economic problems have caused great problems for Jewish congregations and, I assume for churches as well, here in the U.S. In all likelihood a similar situation occurs in Germany as well, at least as far as the demographics are concerned. The difference between the situations of houses of worship in Germany and the U.S. is that American congregations are on their own as far as financial support is concerned unlike those in Germany which receive government funding. Congregations must have a critical enough mass of members to contribute enough financially for each American synagogue or church to survive.


Given the situation in Jewish America, the congregational umbrella organizations are trying to find new modes of operation to keep the smaller synagogues and temples operational. JTA reports, “Sinai Synagogue in South Bend, Ind., has been struggling with issues facing many small congregations in an era of dwindling budgets and shifting demographics. In particular, with only 150 families, until recently it was increasingly difficult to find enough people for Shabbat services and Sunday school classes. So Rabbi Michael Friedland found a solution that’s helping to reenergize the Conservative congregation — stop doing what’s always been done. In part, that meant moving weekday afternoon and Sunday Hebrew school classes to Shabbat morning, with the students and adults brought together for a communal lunch. Congregants with and without children saw something interesting happening, and participation soared from about 50 members on a typical Shabbat morning to 90. Friedland’s is one of numerous approaches that congregations in small communities are employing to stay relevant and vibrant. Likewise, the initiatives are gaining the backing of national congregational arms, which in the past have been accused of having a big-city bias. In fact, in early June the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism hosted a conference outside of Chicago for communal rabbis and lay leaders of congregations with fewer than 250 members. The goal was to provide strategies for the communities to increase engagement and facilitate communication between clergy and members. “Approximately 40 percent of our congregations are what we consider small,” said Rabbi Charles Savenor, director of kehilla enrichment at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which says it has some 600 congregations in the United States. “This conference represents us putting more institutional effort into this area.” The Union for Reform Judaism, realizing that nearly 400 of its 900 congregations have 250 families or less, has started the Small Congregations Network aimed at increasing support to these communities and encouraging them to communicate among themselves about what strategies have been helpful. The network has started to look outside the URJ for effective strategies, taking good ideas wherever they can find them. Likewise, the Orthodox Union has been running periodic Emerging Jewish Communities Fair since 2006 highlighting various small communities. The fair encourages people to move to the communities by discussing the advantages of being part of a small congregation.


I sympathize completely with those congregants who are trying to hold on to their own house of worship. For many in small communities where there is only one temple or synagogue. The closing of it means the end of Jewish education for their children and an end of a central address for Jewish social as well as religious life. This is not a small matter for those that value Jewish life. It’s great that the umbrella organizations are doing something about it rather than just letting nature take its course. The small communities deserve the help. Let’s hope it continues and new methods are found to assist them in hanging on. GERMAN MILITARY IN ISRAEL No! We’re not talking about the Bundeswehr setting up a military presence in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. However, that is not to say that there was not a time when the German army had forces in the “Holy Land”. In fact, as Yoav Zitun in Y-Net News recently reported, “[A] Perfectly preserved German bunker [was] uncovered by IDF [Israel Defense Forces]. [A] Massive weapons' reservoir believed to belong to [the] German imperial army from WWI [was] discovered in [the] Dead Sea due to receding waterline; preserved in near perfect condition thanks to high salt content. The Dead Sea's receding waterline led to the exposure of a massive weapons' reservoir with thousands of artillery shells, bullets, rifles, guns, mines, explosives and even ancient walkie-talkies which were preserved in near perfect condition thanks to the high salt content in the water. Colonel Yaron Beit-On of the Engineering Corps recently completed an investigation into the origins of the weapons and he discovered that they most likely belong to a regiment from the Imperial German army which fought in Israel during WWI alongside the Turks against the British. "Our inquiries revealed that during that period, a German regiment was stationed in the northern Dead Sea and we believe that after they lost and were forced to return to Europe, they left their weapons behind in the Dead Sea," Beit-On told Ynet They most likely sailed boats into the Dead Sea and flung the shells, rifles and all the rest of the weapons into the sea at equal distances in a uniform manner. Some of the weapons, German Mauser rifles of the kind used by the IDF in the 50s, had a stamp stating they were manufactured in 1895, which strengthened the hypothesis that they were used here in WWI." Central Command took a small number of pieces as souvenirs, including a rifle and gun which were cleaned, but the rest were blown up or sent for destruction.


"We may send pictures of the weapons stash to the German military attaché in Israel to confirm our hypothesis," Beit-On noted. So you can stop worrying. The Imperial Army got out in 1918 and hasn’t returned. However, given the German vow to defend Israel’s security maybe the Bundeswehr will return some day. Maybe they could even use the old rifles - but they’re long gone. I hope the commitment isn’t. NEW YORK JEWRY Maybe it’s that I live in the New York area but it does not come as a surprise to me that the Jewish community of New York City and its most closely connected suburbs (Westchester, Nassau & Suffolk Counties) are growing in population because of the birthrate of Orthodox Jews. If Rockland County (where I live), which is just across the Hudson River from Westchester, was included, the percentage of Orthodox growth would be even greater as the County has two large enclaves that are almost totally Orthodox. Incidentally, my home county has the largest Jewish population per capita of any county in the country, with 31.4%, or 90,000 residents, being Jewish. According to JTA, “There are 1.54 million Jews living in 694,000 Jewish households in New York City and three suburban counties, an increase of 9 percent between 2002 and 2011, according to the Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011. The figures in the study, released Tuesday morning, show the New York area with the largest Jewish population anywhere outside of Israel. The study, sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York, was conducted from Feb. 8, 2011, to July 10, 2011 by Jewish Policy & Action Research, led by Dr. Steven Cohen. Some 5,993 self-identifying Jewish adults from New York City and suburban Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties were interviewed by telephone. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 2 percent. According to the study, 40 percent of the New York area's Jews are Orthodox, up from 33 percent in the last study in 2002. The Orthodox households are home to 64 percent of all Jewish children in the New York area. The total number of Jewish children and young adults under the age of 25 has grown by 66,000 since 2002. Meanwhile, the number of Jewish senior citizens also has risen since 2002, with 45,000 more Jews age 75 and above. According to the study, more than half a million people live in 361,000 poor and near-poor Jewish households. Poverty affects 71 percent of Russian speakers with a senior in the household, 43 percent of Chasidic households, 28 percent of seniors living alone and 24 percent of single-parent households. On the subject of Jewish engagement, the number of Orthodox and


nondenominational Jews each increased by more than 100,000 over the past decade, while the number of Conservative and Reform Jews each decreased by about 40,000. Twenty-two percent of married couples are intermarried, and some 40 percent of non-Orthodox married couples are intermarried. Of the non-Orthodox couples married in the past five years, 50 percent are intermarried. Meanwhile, according to the study, nearly half of those ages 18 to 34 attended Jewish day school, compared with 16 percent of those ages 55 to 69; while some 60 percent of those ages 18 to 34 went to Jewish overnight camp, compared with just 37percent of those ages 55 to 69. The 2002 study had found the New York area's Jewish population had fallen below 1 million for the first time in a century. The population peaked at 2 million in the 1950s, according to The New York Times. What are the implications of the growth of the Orthodox community? There is no question that since, by and large, the Orthodox community is more conservative in their lifestyle the politics of the NY Jewish community will also become more conservative. Though it has happened yet, the Republican Party will gain greater strength and begin to give the Democrats real competition. That has already happened in spots but New York City (and State) remains a Democratic stronghold. Since most (at least I think most) of the children of Orthodox are sent to religious schools, there will be a greater emphasis by the parents of those children to support private education with an obvious diminution of funds available for public education. We already have that situation in the parts of Rockland County which are overwhelmingly Orthodox. As far as commitment to Israel is concerned, the Orthodox are much more firmly committed especially to the more conservative elements on the Israeli political spectrum. Many see “The West Bank” one of the birth places of Judaism and refer to it as Judea & Samaria. One might guess that they would not be counted among those who wish to give large portions of it to a Palestinian nation. And what about poverty? Many of the ultra Orthodox families with many children do not have a breadwinner who earns enough to fully support them particularly if the male head of the family spends most of his time studying Torah. The result is government assistance which is very costly to the taxpayers. I am not an expert when it comes to population growth but it seems that the New York situation is probably being replicated in other large cities in the U.S. such as Chicago and LA. There is no question that the face of American Jewry is becoming more conservative and Orthodox. It’s too early to have a realistic picture of how that will play out in politics and international relations. Stay tuned!


THE TURKISH FLOTILLA - WHERE THE FAULT LIES. Two years ago there was much written (even by me) about the Turkish Flotilla of Palestinian sympathizers that tried to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Eight Turks and a Turkish-American were killed after Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara. The event caused a deep rift between Turkey and Israel which has not as yet healed. Many fingers were pointed at many people (Mostly Turkish ones at Israelis and Israeli ones at Turks) assigning blame for this very tragic event. And that is where the matter stood until earlier this month. If you were expecting more accusations by Turks against Israelis and vice versa, that’s not what happened. According to DW, “Israel's state watchdog has slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his handling of a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. The operation left nine Turks dead and severely damaged Israeli-Turkish ties. In a 153-page report issued Wednesday, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss found there had been "significant shortcomings" in the decision-making process that led to the botched raid on May 31, 2010. It said Netanyahu had not held formal discussions with top ministers about the flotilla, only holding separate, inadequately documented talks on the issue with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minster Avidgor Liebermann. "The process of decision-making was done without orderly, agreed-upon, coordinated and documented staff work," the report said. Among other things, the report claimed, no plans had been made for a suitable response in case activists on board the flotilla were armed, despite warnings from Barak and the then chief-of-staff Gabi Ashkenazi. Eight Turks and a Turkish-American were killed after Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, which was heading a six-ship flotilla trying to breach Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip. The flotilla had continued to sail towards Gaza, despite Israeli warnings that it would not be allowed through. The commandos opened fire after being attacked with clubs and metal rods when they stormed the ship. The incident triggered a diplomatic crisis with Turkey, with Ankara threatening warcrimes suits against Israel.


Israel imposed a land and sea blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas militants seized control of the territory, saying it was to prevent weapons from reaching the radical Islamists. The naval blockade is still in place, although the land embargo has been significantly eased amid international condemnation of the plight of the Palestinians under the restrictions. Netanyahu has defended the military action, calling it "a direct result of responsible administration and resolute policy." "Israeli citizens enjoy a level of security they have not had for many years," he said in response to the report. The report is unlikely to damage the domestic standing of Netanyahu, who is the popular leader of a coalition that holds three-quarters of the seats in parliament. I have not read the 153 page report. However, it appears to be critical of the decision making, the way the raid was handled and the failure of the Prime Minister to plan for the Turkish and world reaction. However, it does not contain what I consider to be important - the need to have some sort of critique of the Turkish and ProPalestinian blockade runners. I think it’s pretty clear that Israel had to react in some way but the way it was handled was (according to the report) quite disastrous. I decided to include this piece in this edition for two reasons. First, as noted in the opening article, as a good journalist, I should report the bad as well as the good. My second reason has to do with Israel being a democracy. The Jewish State is frequently bludgeoned as being some kind of racist & fascist country. No nation unless it has a strong democracy can stomach a report that is highly critical of its own political leadership and have that sort of criticism accepted by the populace as the norm. The report wasn’t vetoed or hidden. It was widely reported in the press – in Israel and worldwide. My conclusion is that Israel’s democracy remains strong. Somehow that seems to me more important than who should be pointed to as the guilty party. HOWEVER…I don’t think it’s good to end on such a positive note. Military decision making in the small intense area that the Middle East is, especially when we are talking about nuclear weapons, can make the difference between a good and rational outcome and total disaster. Ron Ben-Yishai, a noted Israeli journalist raises the question of what Israel might do if the chemical and biological arsenal of Syria, where a civil war is underway, might fall into the hands of terrorists. He analyses the Israeli decision making process which might have dramatic implications for the entire region and, perhaps the world.


You can read it by clicking here.,7340,L-4242345,00.html ************************************************************************************************ That’s it! See you again in July. 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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