a different side of Israel

Tag: Germany

Germany Deems Settlements the Cause of Middle East Turmoil

Along with 13 other members of the United Nations Security Council – that is everyone, discounting U.S. president Obama – Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany voted in favor of a resolution deeming Jewish settlements outside of pre-1967 borders, illegal.

Germany historically has voted ‘nay’ or abstained from voting in any laws criticizing the Jewish State. Chairman of the German Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Ruprecht Polenz, told the New York Times’ Judy Dempsey:

“the vote was highly unusual…It means that Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to explain to the Israeli government that with the extraordinary changes taking place across the Middle East, time is not on its side when it comes to resolving the conflict with the Palestinians…”

Merkel’s calling Jewish settlements the true flashpoint of the conflict is a misnomer. The source of the conflict really goes back to the beginning of the 20th century; and some would argue it is really a metaphysical phenomenon, one that Germany knows better than anyone else in the world.

When Netanyahu caught wind of Merkel’s change of heart he furiously phoned the Chancellor to make clear his grievance. The conversation leaked to Haaretz:

Merkel replied to Bibbi’s complaint:

“How dare you?”

“You are the one who has disappointed us. You haven’t made a single step to advance peace.”

Last year, the German Parliament unanimously passed a resolution criticizing the blockade of Gaza and Israel’s storming of the Mavi Marmara.

Israeli and German relations are now the rockiest they have been in some 63 years.

Email from Berlin


We are well and thank you for the recommendation…

Berlin is a beautiful and edgy city. There is lots to see here. We went to 4 museums so far and today we went for a walk in their Tiergarten park, sort of like central park, beautiful and bigger actually.
The city is huge, its 900 sq. kilometers and has 3.6 million citizens. It also gets 9 million tourists a year…

We took the bus city tour pass, like we always do, and we got a feel for the city. Of course we also got the 3 day museum pass so we can go to as many museums as we want in 3 days. It’s amazing to see how Hitler and the Nazi party fucked this city up in every aspect possible. The city zoo, one of the biggest collection with over 4500 species was cut down to 70. The national museums were all but destroyed and the works of arts they had collected were taken by the allied forces or destroyed. In the center of the city there is a church which was bombed and they intentionally leave it like that, the roof and towers are in pieces and they keep it that way to remember. And of course, the huge mark of shame – the Berlin Wall, that cut this city in half and is still noticeable today.

The city is young but you see older people who have a good life. They go out to restaurants and enjoy the city.

The weather is beautiful, fall and changing colors. Yesterday was sunny and you see the locals all run out and sit along the Spree river and enjoy the last days of sun before the winter. The park was all orange and yellow and it was beautiful.

Yesterday, we went to a shopping areas called Hackensack Market in the Mitte district, what once was East Berlin, and it was great. You walk around between residential buildings in courtyards and each with little boutiques and specialty stores. The area is an East Berlin revamped suburb, young and edgy. We finished the evening in a good Thai restaurant..

We are staying in the Charlottenberg district, right off the Kurfustedam. West Berlin’s very high end street. Sort of the 5th avenue or Madison Avenue of Berlin. We are staying in a very modern hotel called XXX hotel and on the corner of our street is Cartier. The street is 3.5 KM and you can find every major fashion designer and brand on this street. XXX was very busy and visited them all 🙂

We enjoy a great breakfast every morning, salmon, cold meats and cheese, fresh bread and eggs and bacon. We have Wireless Internet everywhere in the hotel and its really great. When you walk into the corridor the lights turn on to conserve energy and the room looks on to a green treed courtyard (since we are here for a week they upgraded our room).

The first place we went to was the Jewish Museum, interesting place and the 3rd most popular museum in the city.. Its a significant part of the Museum trail here. German kids were there and they are all taken there to see and learn. Some don’t want to be there but at least they are taken there. Berlin had 180,000 Jews when the war started. Today there are 14,000 Jews… when you go to the museum and you see some of the pictures and stories of Jews in the city, you start to recognize the names of the streets they mention.. It’s eery..

You come across the effects of the war and that period of shame all the time. We went to the Helmut Newton exhibition, It’s Berlin’s photography museum. He was a Berliner Jew who left to Australia and became one of the best known photographers in the world. He lived in Paris, Monte Carlo and LA but not Berlin. His mother got him out of the country after things got dangerous in Berlin when he was young… Must really burn their ass..

Everything in Berlin is under construction! I mean everything.. They are building all the time and everywhere. It is once again the Capital of Germany and the Bundestag is the parliament. It’s also the festival of lights this week so they light up the main buildings at night and its beautiful. One thing that was a little creepy was the Brandenburg Gate. The gate with the 4 horses at the top and what once had the Nazi emblem. I saw a photo of it in 1945 right at the end of the war, it was completely destroyed and what’s interesting is that the Berlin wall was a few hundred yards from it so it was also in no mans land for 40 years..

When you walk through the areas where the Berlin wall ran, there is a double cobble stone belt in the road to show you the imaginary line of the wall. It’s a permanent scar across the city’s face, like someone slashed it and left the mark. Again, the result of Nazi regime and past mistakes.

All this makes Berlin an interesting city to visit. Food is great and its not very expensive. There are also lots of Israelis and a few times when we spoke, Germans asked if we were Israelis and recognized the lingo.

Yep.. The Jews are back motherfuckers ….

Love you,

Katharina Wagner Will Be Staying in Germany

Great-granddaughter of German composer Richard Wagner canceled a trip to Israel after the leaked news of the visit prompted criticism over her anti-Semitic ancestor.

Katharina Wagner was scheduled to visit the Jewish Country and invite the Israel Chamber Orchestra to open next summer’s Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany.

The visit, which according to Haaretz had been kept secret for a year, was leaked to the Israeli media to the reception of hot and cold reactions both from Israel and abroad.

Usually, Wagner’s works are not performed in Israel where he is unloved for his reputation as an outspoken anti-Semite whose work was venerated by Hitler.

Chairwoman of the orchestra’s board of directors, Erella Talmi told Israel’s Army Radio that the orchestra will play in the opening of the month-long festival of Richard Wagner operas.

“The decision was not to break a taboo,”

Said Talmi,

“The decision was to accept an invitation that showed a new openness.”

Hence, she drew a distinction between performing Wagner in Israel and abroad.

The new Austrian conductor of the orchestra, Roberto Paternostro is a friend of Katharina Wagner’s.
Some musicologists date the beginning of modern classical music to the first notes of Wagner’s Tristan – the Hendrix-esque “Tristan Chord”.

His music is especially known for its early introduction to 20th century atonality.

During the 1870’s, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was part of the composer’s in-crowd – and in fact, Nietzsche (also known to have an anti-Semitic edge, though less sharp) proposed in his first work, The Birth of Tragedy, that Wagner’s music is the “Dionysian rebirth of European culture in opposition to Appollonian rationalist decadence”.

A prolific writer, Wagner wrote a famous essay in 1850, “Das Judenthum in der Musik” (“Jewishness in Music”), a polemic in opposition to Jewish composers in general, and in particular one Giacomo Meyerbeer. He was also well-known for his mistreatment of German-Jewish composer and conductor, Hermann Levi.

Unpublished Kafka to see Light of Day

For more than 40 years, the treasure trove of unseen and unpublished possibly important Franz Kafka works lay stacked in piles in a humid apartment in a Tel Aviv suburb. The cache consisted of thousands of decomposing postcards, letters, manuscripts and drawings by the Czech-born Jewish writer.

Franz KafkaWell, after a legal battle taking more than two years, papers from a collection began to emerge from the vaults, yesterday, of a bank in Zürich, Switzerland.

The amount of works discovered could lead to a re-assessment of the tormented and reclusive writer, who died at age 40 in 1924, from Tuberculosis, whose family was killed in the Holocaust.

Kafka was born in 1883 in Prague – when he died, he was a little-known Jewish writer with a handful of published German stories to his name.

Just prior to his death in a Vienna sanatorium, the writer entrusted his friend, Max Brod with his collection of unpublished handwritten documents, insisting famously that all papers “should be burned unread and without remnant” after his death. Well this never happened and Max Brod’s former secretary was watching over them in the cat infested first floor Tel Aviv suburb.

Brod, after Kafka’s death did not follow his friends wishes and instead published some of the works including The Metamorphosis, The Trial and The Castle.

When the Nazi’s invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939, Brod, a fervent Zionist, stuffed the collection of manuscripts into a suitcase and left for Israel.

Esther Hoffe, Brod’s housekeeper and alleged lover sold an original manuscript of The Trial in 1988 at Sotheyby’s, on behalf of the German literary archive in the city of Marbach. It fetched an estimated one-million dollars. On a separate occasion, when she was arrested at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport on suspicion of smuggling, letters and a travel journal by Kafka were found in her bag.

Israel’s state archive was allowed to catalogue Hoffe’s collection, yet there was always a suspicion that she had hidden away the most valuable portions of it.

Now that Hoffe has recently passed away at age 101, many in the Jewish Country are angry about talk of removing some of the papers from the country and selling them to Germany’s Marbach archive. Israel regards the Kafka legacy as a national treasure and a very key to pre-Holocaust European Jewish life.

Yom Hashoa and John Demjanjuk’s Extraction to Germany

DemjanjukIn a way, it seems almost fitting that former concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk is on the verge of being extradited to Germany as this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day begins. Demjanjuk is being extradited from the USA to stand trial in Germany for his part in one of Mankind’s most horrendous acts of cruelty in modern times. Demjanjuk, now nearly 90, had originally been extradited to Israel where he had been convicted and sentenced to death for his role as the notorious “Ivan the Terrible” at the Treblinka concentration Camp where nearly a million Jews and others were killed during WWII. Demjanjuk had been living quietly in Cleveland Ohio for years since coming to the USA in 1953 from his native Ukraine.

He was freed from Israel after new evidence shed a reasonable doubt that he was indeed the notorious Treblinka camp guard who was personally said to have killed many inmates himself in various cruel ways. His arrival back in the US was centered in controversy, and many people sought ways to have him deported to some other country, such as Poland or the Ukraine. But no one wanted him; even the country of his birth.

New evidence secured in (of all places) Germany implicates Demjanjuk as being a guard at a much smaller camp, Sobibor, in southeastern Poland, where more than 200,000 people are said to have been killed, at least 29,000 during Demjanjuk’s duty tenure. Demjanjuk’s son, John Jr., was quoted as saying that he and his family “will do everything possible” to prevent “this cruel and inhumane punishment” from happening to his father, who is now in a very bad state of health.

Cruel and inhumane punishment, eh? Many people, especially those surviving Holocaust victims who still remember this man, may be remembering how he expressed his “humanity” to camp inmates he was in charge of – especially those as old and as feeble as he is now. Would he have been as concerned for their welfare as Demjanjuk’s family are concerned about him now? Concentration camp survivors, many of whom are well into their 80’s (as Demjanjuk is) still have nightmares concerning the horrors they experienced during their incarceration in a number of death or forced labor camps, including those as notorious as Auschwitz –Birkenau, Buchenwald, Treblinka, and others. Perhaps any “compassion” Demjanjuk may have shown to his charges was to kill them quickly, and not torture and humiliate them as he has been accused of doing.

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2009 is being commemorated as usual with ceremonies and events to remember the more than 6,000,000 Jews who were slaughtered between 1938 and 1945. But few will shed a tear for this man, Ivan John Demjanjuk; especially the few remaining camp survivors who had the “distinction” of knowing him personally.

The CON in the Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims

We are at home watching the shows and stories of the Holocaust. A day dedicated to the stories and the survivors here in Israel. There are 80,000 survivors in Israel that can barely survive and leave below the poverty line yet when they ask for help they are put through hell. Insurance monies, property taken from these people, claims money that were awarded all went to a group called the Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims in New York.

The Conference is the sole beneficiary of German compensation. Actually $1,070,000,000 worth of compensation. When properties were released after the fall of the Berlin wall in Germany it was this organization that collected the properties – a list that until today is not being revealed to survivors. This body is today one of the largest single property ownership groups in Europe.

Today when a survivor wants to get the money he is left, he needs to face a battery of lawyers controlled by this New York organization. Even today this organization refuses to provide a list of the properties that are held supposedly for the Holocaust survivors.

120,000 properties were received, worth $1,050,000,000. And this money is transfered to organizations and foundations that have nothing to do with the Holocaust and its survivors. Organizations that are in Brooklyn, Jewish Museums, and a whole network of organizations not related to the Holocaust in any way.

Not only that, in one case when the Conference received a property and then is faced with a claim from the actual property owner, the Conference demanded 50% of the money and threatened in writing the owner that they will take his house if he doesn’t pay up. Blackmailing Holocaust survivors!!! The CON gets worse and is aggressively covered up to the extent that employees are fired for asking the wrong questions.

There are 24 Jewish organizations that control the Claims Conference each having the same weight in decisions and allocations. And so Israel with its 80,000 survivors gets the same weight in deciding on the allocation of aid as for example South Africa with its 900 survivors.

The Conference allocates money for political favors and people on the board of directors are getting ridiculous salaries with administrative costs that are running in the millions. The term for this in the US is Self Dealing! It is Self Dealing that is now hopefully going to be investigated by the District Attorney of New York.

“Yirgon Uotzei Merkaz Europa”, an organization in Israel that received $9,000,000 from the Conference over the years, is managed by one of the guys close to the plate. That organization that supposed to help Eastern European jews is charging $4,000 a month for a room in their retirement home. It gives no breaks to Holocausts Survivors of course. The organization that received money and is supposed to help Holocaust education and support survivors has absolutely no such services or consideration to survivors. This year the organization will receive another $670,000.

To date 2,000 Holocaust survivors received assistance from the Conference.

Gideon Taylor the head of the Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims makes $450,000 a year!

Good People…

German Youth Suffering Holocaust Fatigue

A report issued by a German Foreign Ministry delegation that deals with teaching the lessons of the Holocaust to German school children said that many children in the country are becoming weary of this subject, even to the point that they may be suffering from what is now being called “Holocaust fatigue”. The report was given by Dr. Benedikt Haller, a Foreign ministry official who is involved in relations with Jewish organizations in respect to issues involving the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.

German Youth Suffering Holocaust FatigueThe gist of the problem, according to Haller, revolves around a new generation of educators who believe that German children “must know the truth about what happened in their country before and during WWII”. Previously, not all the actual details had been conveyed to schoolchildren, perhaps for the reason that their parents and others of the same age group were embarrassed by what had happened during the Holocaust. This new idea of literally “bombarding” German children with literature dealing with this subject has now worked in reverse of what it was intended to do.

An example of this feeling was expressed in a recent cartoon in Der Speigel, one of Germany’s top newspapers. In this cartoon, a young, bewildered German student is standing in a bookstore that is literally crammed with books and other literature dealing with the Holocaust. This cartoon ironically came out on the 60th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.

A specially designed comic book, entitled “The Search”, has recently been introduced into German school curriculum, and deals with Jewish children of about the same age who became victims of the Holocaust. German schoolchildren are required to read the book and afterwards discuss it in class. German kids then give their ideas of what they would have done if in the same situation.

These issues come on the eve of German’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s planned visit to Israel in which she addressed the Knesset in her native language – German. This has already been criticized by some officials in Israel, while others do not have a problem with it as German is, after all, Merkel’s native tongue. The German Chancellor visited Israel not long after she took up her post, and visited the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem. Her uncomfortable feelings regarding her country’s past were very evident during this visit.

A new Holocaust remembrance and memorial office is soon to be opened in Berlin, which Haller is very proper since Berlin was the city where the Holocaust actually began during the1930’s and where acts of genocide against were later planned.

If German children are taught less about their country’s darker past, it could later reflect on how they feel about Israel and Jews in general, and could result in a rise in antisemitism in Germany. And as the well said saying goes: “he who forgets the lessons of history is doomed to repeat them”.

Gunter Grass

Gunter GrassRenown German author Gunter Grass had thought his past had not caught up with him. That was until he was nominated to receive a special honorary Doctorate by Israel’s Netanya Academic College, an institution known for hosting an annual international forum dealing with human rights. Grass, who will celebrate his 80th birthday next year, is already a Nobel Prize laureate for literature (1999) and is author of several international best sellers. His books have been translated into several languages, and his nearly life-long crusade for international justice and human rights often resulted his being invited to speak at numerous international forums. Grass was honored to receive the Doctorate, and though making the trip to Israel would have been difficult, due to his frail health, he was very pleased that the college planned to honor him in this manner.

Until, however, Gunter Grass disclosed a secret he had kept hidden for more than 60 years; and that secret was that he had briefly been a member of the elite Nazi Waffen SS Corps.

Like many Germans, now reaching there 80’s, Gunter’s past had finally caught up with him. Or, due to he himself revealing this fact, Gunter Grass had finally caught up with own past. In disclosing the fact, which he afterwards digressed in more detail in a letter to Dr. Yitzhak Mayer, an academic fellow of the College, Grass noted that he had only been 17 at the time, which was in the closing months of the war, and virtually all German youth his age, and even younger, were called up for duty ‘to the Fatherland’. He admitted that he had considered it an honor to have been assigned to the SS, which most Germans still considered to be their country’s most elite military unit. His actual ‘service’ in the SS lasted less than a month, when he was wounded during a battle east of Berlin; and he wound up in a military hospital, which was soon captured by American forces.

Perhaps due to his short tour of duty in the SS, and due to his learning afterwards of all the atrocities that both his native country, and designated army unit, had committed, he decided to push this incident far back into his past; and mad up his mind to dedicate his life to overcoming human prejudice and intolerance, particularly towards the Jewish People. He first visited in 1966, when many Israelis and Jews living outside of Israel still had very strong feelings against Germany and concerning the Holocaust. This visit resulted in his being boycotted by Israeli writers; and due to similar reactions on another visit in 1971, the author has not been back.

As is customary policy, the College suspended its plans to grant Grass the honorary title, which prompted him to write the letter to the academic heads, in which he asked for understanding in regards to his short term in the SS, when due to his young age he was “very young and stupid”.

Many German former SS members have tried to atone for their past, including joining and serving in various foreign armies. And like Gunter Grass, many of them probably became SS soldiers under similar circumstances. These examples point out to efforts by many to keep reminding Germany of its obligations to prevent this dark period in the country’s history from ever re-surfacing.

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