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DU BOW DIGEST – American Jewish – German Relations

AMERICAN EDITION

SEPTEMBER 29, 2009

Dear friends,

My best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 5770. As you will see below,
the German election has come and gone and the winners now have the problem of
putting together a new government

IN THIS EDITION

*THE ELECTION What happened! What it means!

*AHMADINEJAD Rantings and ravings at the UN

* GERMAN SUBMARINES & A NEW ISRAELI OPINION POLL Is there a connection? Find out!

* GERMAN SUBMARINES & A NEW ISRAELI OPINION POLL What the German political
parties have to say about Jewish life in Germany.

* FALL OF THE WALL - 20 YEARS LATER This year is the 20th anniversary of the fall
of the Berlin Wall? How did it come about?

* THE NPD AND THE ELECTION The neo-Nazi party campaigns. Nasty tricks seem to be
what they like best.

***********************

THE ELECTION

It’s finally over and, as expected, Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU party garnered the
most votes and so she will return as Chancellor for the next four years. However,
the biggest winner was the Free Democratic Party (FDP) whose 15% of the vote will
allow it, along with the CDU/CSU, to form a new coalition government. Chancellor
Merkel will be able to rid herself of her partner of the last four years, the
Social Democratic Party, and she will not enter a center-right coalition which
will be more “comfortable” certainly in terms of domestic policy. The FDP is a
business oriented party and will be able to exercise its political muscle to push
for tax cuts, deregulation and financial reform which are their key demands.

In terms of the “Jewish” issues there will probably be little change. However, the
post of Foreign Minister will go to FDP Party leader Guido Westerwelle and,
frankly, his position on Middle East issues are just not known. In his career he
has focused on domestic concerns and just does not have a long record on the
international front. While the FDP is very “pro-business” (Pro-Arab? Pro-doing
business with Iran?) There are many members of the Party that have been stalwart
friends of Israel so we’ll just have to wait and see how it all works out.

In the German system the coalition-to-be members must now sit down and negotiate
an agreement on what the policies will be and who will get what jobs. While it is
clear that Westerwelle will become Foreign Minister, other ministries will be
headed up by FDP members. All those previously held by SPD members in the outgoing
coalition will have new Ministers. I imagine that there will be some moving around
of but the Defense Ministry should remain in the hands of the CDU/CSU and, of
course, that is important to Jewish interests.
It is my personal hope that the Interior Ministry which handles terrorism, anti-
Semitism, etc. will remain with the CDU with Wolfgang Schaeuble as Minister. We
could not have a better friend.

We’ll keep tuned as the new coalition takes power and let you know what develops.
In the meantime congratulations to Chancellor Merkel, the CDU/CSU, the FDP and
Guido Westerwelle.

AHMADINEJAD

I don’t want to waste too much time on THE UNSHAVEN ONE but I think it appropriate
to note that on Sept. 22nd Reuters reported that “‘Germany will walk out of the UN
General Assembly if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust in
a speech he will give on Wednesday, and it wants other European Union countries to
do the same’, the foreign ministry said. ‘We will leave the hall if President
Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust or makes anti-Semitic statements…we are making
efforts toward a unified European position…’”

They walked! I’m not sure but they may not have even shown up at all.

After TUO spoke, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier said, “Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a disgrace to his country. That kind of remark is
not just intolerable. This president is a disgrace to his country."
I could not have said it better myself.

GERMAN SUBMARINES & A NEW ISRAELI OPINION POLL

What do German submarines and an Israeli opinion poll have to do with one another?
You’ll have to keep reading in order to find out.

A month or two ago I included a short piece about the fact that Israel’s submarine
fleet was built in Germany. The Jerusalem Post recently ran an article about these
vessels giving a little history that I think is interesting. They said, “Israel
received its first submarine in 1959. Called Tanin, the S-class submarine
purchased from Great Britain participated in the Six Day War and launched naval
commandos to attack the port of Alexandria. The submarine tried to torpedo an
Egyptian ship but was severely damaged by a depth charge attack, resulting in the
vessel's decommissioning following the war.
Recognizing the strategic significance of underwater vessels, Flotilla 7 continued
to grow and in the 1970s three Gal-class submarines arrived. After 23 years of
service, they were decommissioned in the late 1990s following the arrival of the
three Dolphin-class subs from Germany.
While production of the Dolphin program was approved in 1989 by defense minister
Yitzhak Rabin, it was terminated a year later by defense minister Moshe Arens due
to heavy budgetary constraints.
Several months after Arens's decision, however, the First Gulf War broke out and
Iraqi Scuds were launched into the country. Subsequent reports that Iraqi chemical
warheads, which were never fired, were possibly developed with the help of German
companies strained relations between Berlin and Jerusalem, leading the German
government to offer humanitarian and military support in the form of two Dolphin-
class submarines free of charge. The third submarine was ordered a year later, and
the cost was split by Germany and Israel.
The three submarines will soon be joined by another two vessels that are currently
under construction by Germany's Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) at a
shipyard in Kiel. The new vessels are scheduled to arrive by the middle of the
next decade.
The (current) submarines use diesel engines to power up generators which allow
them to remain submerged for several days. The new vessels being assembled in
Germany will be fitted with a propulsion system combining a conventional system,
consisting of a diesel generator with a lead acid battery, and an air-independent
propulsion system used for silent slow cruising, with a fuel cell equipped with
oxygen and hydrogen storage.
‘With the new German technology,’ an official close to the deal says, ‘the new
submarines will be able to remain submerged for much, much longer than the older
Dolphin models.’"

Keep reading!

Recently Israel.jpost.com reported “Seventy years after the outbreak of World War
II, an unprecedented public opinion poll reveals a surprising picture of Germany
as perceived by Israelis: Roughly two-thirds of Jews in Israel expressed a high
degree of satisfaction with the level of accountability accepted by Germany for
its role in the Holocaust, and Germany's relationship to Israelis today.
The poll, which showed 61% of Israeli Jews as being satisfied with the level of
responsibility taken today by Germany for the Nazi annihilation of European Jewry,
was the first comparative survey taken of Arab and Jewish attitudes toward
Germany.”

Now I’ll get to my point and make the connection. There is little doubt (in my
mind) that the relationship between Israel (and Israelis) and Germany is closer
with greater understanding by each of the other than between Germany and American
Jews. To a large extent, especially among older American Jews, we still are in the
1930’s and 1940’s. It’s hard to change emotions but politics, programs, policies,
etc. should reflect our current needs as a Jewish community that has “interests.”
So, at least think about it. The relationship is important for the things that are
most important to us. Isn’t it in the Jewish self-interest to upgrade the
relationship?
POLITICS & THE GERMAN JEWISH COMMUNITY

In anticipation of the German elections, JTA reported, “Germany’s major political


parties pledged their commitment to support the growth of Jewish life in the
country.
The statements come just days before Germany's elections, scheduled for Sunday, as
the country grapples with its Iran policy and its delicately balanced relations
with Israel and the Palestinians -- issues of prime importance to many Jewish
voters.
Answering a pre-election query from the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the
main institution representing Germany's Jews, the six parties in the outgoing
federal parliament said the Jewish population is important to the country,
especially given Germany's historical guilt for the genocide of European Jewry in
the Holocaust.”

In the U.S. we might think it unusual if our major political parties pledged
themselves openly and publicly to “the growth of Jewish life in the country.”
However, as you might imagine, it’s not at all strange in Germany where Jews and
the Jewish community hold a very unusual and important place in the psyche of all
Germans. Germany, as a nation, is still paying off the psychological debt for the
Holocaust and will for a long time to come. However, one of the great twists of
fate took place after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Jews from the former Soviet
Union were able to leave that forsaken part of the world and many emigrated to
Germany. This gave the Federal Republic the opportunity, once again, to have a
substantial Jewish population, and more than that, help in its development. Since
the Wall came down, it has grown from 28,000 to now (probably) over 200,000 even
though further immigration has tailed off in recent years. It is now the 3rd
largest Jewish community in Europe after the France and the UK.

Interestingly, even the Left Party (Die Linke), which has been much more
sympathetic to the Palestinians said, “… that “historical guilt gives rise to the
obligation to support Jewish life in Germany.” The Left Party has drawn criticism
for (previously) pushing talks with Hamas.

So, while I don’t doubt for a moment the sincerity of many Germans in wanting
their Jewish community to grow and prosper, the statement of the political parties
is also good politics. When sincerity and politics can be joined together we get a
win/win situation – and that’s what we have here.

FALL OF THE WALL - 20 YEARS LATER

Time flies! It’s hard to believe that on November 9th we will celebrate the 20th
anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The consequences of that dramatic
happening continue to reverberate. It changed everything for everybody. For the
Germans it re-united their country. It ended the occupation and got the Russians
out of East Germany. For the Jews it opened the gates of the Soviet Union for a
massive emigration to Israel, the U.S. and Germany. It removed from the political
landscape East Germany, one of Israel’s strongest critics. It liberated countries
in the Soviet bloc to have normalized relations with Israel, etc., etc., etc.

In the next couple of months as we get closer to what is now called “Unity Day” in
Germany I will be writing more about the meaning of the Wall and its demise. I am
going to start, however, with an interview in Der Spiegel of James Baker who was
the U.S. Secy. of State in 1989. The role that he and Pres. George H.W. Bush
played is of enormous significance.
Read it! You’ll learn a lot: Click here:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,650801,00.html

THE NPD AND THE ELECTION

The neo-Nazi NPD Party people are really a nasty bunch. Luckily they have never
been able to muster the 5% vote needed to get a seat in the Bundestag even though,
as I’ve written previously, they do have members in a couple of state
legislatures.

In the national election, in the eastern part of Germany, they posted signs that
said “Stop the Polish Invasion.” The Local reported, “In early September, the NPD
hung more than 50 of the signs up in the Ueker-Randow district of the state which
borders Poland and counts more than 1,000 Polish citizens as residents. Local
authorities removed the placards, prompting a lawsuit by the NPD.

In the first phase, the NPD succeeded in getting the support of a lower court to
declare the district’s actions improper. Saturday’s decision by a higher court
overturns the lower court’s action.

A court spokeswoman told the DPA news service that the text and picture elements
of the NPD placards were an affront to the human dignity of others and posed a
danger for public security and order.

The NPD’s only recourse now is to appeal the case to the Federal Constitutional
Court in Karlsruhe on the grounds that the party’s constitutional rights have been
violated.

The party, which is under observation by German domestic intelligence agencies for
its anti-foreigner message, has been successful in gaining votes in the
economically weak region.”

If their Polish outrage wasn’t enough, the Police also raided “the Berlin
headquarters of Germany's neo-Nazi NPD party after it sent racist letters to
ethnic minority candidates in this weekend's election, telling them to "‘go
home.’" (The Local)

A spokesman for Berlin prosecutors confirmed they had launched an investigation


over suspected incitement to racial hatred.

The letters, signed by an "officer for the deportation of foreigners," were


presented as a "notice" to candidates of Turkish origin ahead of elections on
September 27.

According to one recipient, Green politician Ozcan Mutlu, the two-page letter
contained a "five-point plan" for "moving foreigners gradually back to their home
countries."

The letters sparked outrage from mainstream politicians who called for renewed
efforts to outlaw the NPD, which has no seats in the national parliament but is
represented in two of Germany's powerful regional assemblies.

Of course, we want Germany to remain democratic and allow “free speech.” However,
I wonder how we would feel (and what we would do) if a genuinely neo-Nazi party
emerged in the U.S., got seats in state legislatures and started running
nationally. Ask yourself the question.
See you in October.

*****************

DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted at
edubow@optonline.net Both the American and Germany editions are also posted on
line at www.dubowdigest.typed.com as well.