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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Chancellor Angela Merkel’

European Rabbis to Grant Merkel Top Honor

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive a top award from Europe’s mainstream Orthodox rabbinic body, the Conference of European Rabbis.

It announced Monday that Merkel will be awarded the 2013 Lord Jakobovits Prize for European Jewry for her dedication to the German Jewish community and “outspoken denunciation of anti-Semitism throughout Europe.”

The award will be presented in May at the Great Synagogue of Europe in Brussels; for security reasons the exact date has not been released.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, or CER, and a chief rabbi of Moscow, called Merkel “a worthy recipient, in recognition of her continuing efforts of intercommunal harmony across Europe, her friendship towards the Jewish community and outstanding contributions to the promotion of tolerance and understanding.”

The CER thanked Merkel in particular for standing up for the rights of Jews and Muslims to practice ritual circumcision on boys. Last December, after months of debate following attempts to ban the practice, Germany’s Bundestag passed a law that permits such circumcisions, with minor restrictions that were acceptable to Jewish leaders. Merkel had forcefully stated her support for such a law and reassured both minority communities that she would stand up for them.

Last year’s winner of the award was former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, who served as president of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2012.

Spiegel Bemoaning ‘Germanophobia’

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

It appears that the Germans have been expecting to be forgiven for those memorable years 1933-1945, especially when considering all the goodness and stability Germany has been spreading around the continent. But the continent is refusing to be grateful, and have become quite insolent, in fact. Germany’s push for austerity during the ongoing euro crisis has prompted Nazi depictions of Chancellor Angela Merkel in many parts of Southern Europe and mass demonstrations pushing the same idea, namely that today’s Germany is pursuing the same old targets, using economic means.

This weekend, Spiegel interviewed Brendan Peter Simms, a professor of the History of International Relations in the Center of International Studies at Cambridge University, asking poignantly: “People talk of a Fourth Reich, and the hatred is palpable. Is this just absurd dramatics, or is it a reaction to a true power shift in Germany’s favor?”

Prof. Simms enlightened Spiegel’s editors—and their German readers—on the fact that the “German question” is still very much on everybody’s mind in Europe, despite the German reunification, and perhaps because of it.

“There is no doubt Germanophobia exists,” said Simms. “Look at Greece, at Italy, even Ireland, a country that has never before expressed hostility toward Germany, but which is now full of anger over increasingly painful cuts to its standard of living, an anger that comes from people feeling they have been hung out to dry. Then, of course, there is also anti-German sentiment that stems from World War II, for example in Greece.”

According to Simms, the problem starts with German politicians who tend to emphasize almost exclusively the poor conduct of the countries at the periphery of the EU, insisting that those countries change this conduct as a prerequisite for changing the EU’s political structure.

“By taking this position, they’re failing to recognize that this poor conduct was in part a result of a design flaw in the way the euro was implemented, which led to the countries at Europe’s periphery being flooded with new, cheap money… My fear is that Germany’s policies on this point consist solely of setting the European periphery conditions it can’t fulfill.”

Top German Jewish leader blasts Gov’t’s Weak Stand on Neo-Nazis

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Germany’s top Jewish leader has slammed the government’s decision not to join efforts to ban the country’s most powerful neo-Nazi party.

“The decision of the Federal Government is disappointing and politically completely wrong,” Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement Wednesday. “They chose hesitation and procrastination over courage and determination.”

The decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government not to submit a supportive brief to the Supreme Court is seen as a setback but not a final blow to attempts to ban the National Democratic Party of Germany, or NPD. Those attempts picked up steam in December, when the Bundesrat – the legislative council representing Germany’s 16 states – voted to submit a petition to the top court.

Critics had hoped for a united front of the executive, Bundesrat and Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament. Now, legislators are scrambling to build support within the Bundestag, so that at least two of the three governmental bodies will stand firm for an investigation against the NPD.

Germany’s main neo-Nazi party, which according to the latest government figures has 5,800 members, is known for its anti-democratic, anti-foreigner and anti-Semitic stances. It blames foreigners for Germany’s problems and belittles the Holocaust, while publicly trying to avoid outright Holocaust denial, which is illegal. The party has representatives in two state legislatures, where it barely passed the 5 percent vote threshold. It thus receives federal funding – about $1.7 million in 2011, according to a report in the Bild newspaper.

German law protects even the most abhorrent of speech, as long as it is not illegal. A 2003 attempt to ban the NPD failed after the Supreme Court found that government informants may have incited the very illegal acts that were then under scrutiny. The failure was seen as a great embarrassment for the government.

In the years since, the NPD has been “spreading its Nazi poison and offering many right-wing extremist groups ideological and logistical support – with German taxpayer monies, no less,” Graumann said in his statement Wednesday.

German Lawmakers Pass Pro-Circumcision Non-Binding Resolution

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Germany’s parliament called on the government to step in to protect the right to religious circumcision of boys, as long as it is done by a medically qualified practitioner who avoids inflicting pain.

An overwhelming majority of German lawmakers passed a non-binding resolution Thursday urging the administration of Chancellor Angela Merkel to submit a law this fall ensuring that the ritual practiced by both Jews and Muslims not be criminalized. Responsible doctors should not fear the law, they said.

The resolution, drafted by members of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the Social Democratic Party and the Free Democratic Party, followed weeks of debate over a May ruling from a Cologne district court that criminalized non-medical circumcisions of male children in that region of Germany.

The lawmakers said that “Jewish and Islamic religious life must continue to be possible in Germany,” and insisted that those performing the operation be medically trained.

A full parliamentary debate on the issue generally follows the government’s presentation of a proposed law.

Germany’s socialist left Party, which did not sign the resolution, said that only a symbolic circumcision should be allowed on minors, to be completed in adulthood upon request, Reuters reported. Green Party representatives said it would be difficult for Germany to justify banning a procedure that is practiced around the world.

A Social Democratic lawmaker vowed that even if religious-based circumcision of boys is expressly protected, so-called female circumcision would never be legal in Germany.

Chancellor Merkel Pledges to Keep Circumcision Legal

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

After what German diplomats have described as a “disastrous” damage to Germany’s image abroad, especially in light of its Nazi past, it appears that Berlin has finally gotten the message.

(The JewishPress.com sent a petition with 12,000 signatures to the German Ambassador in Tel Aviv, declaring that “Germany has absolutely no moral or ethical right to pass any laws or make any statements regarding Brit Milah (circumcision) or on any other Jewish practice.”)

The German government on Friday pledged “quick action” to protect the right of Jews and Muslims to circumcise their boys, after a much protested court ruling to the contrary, AFP reports.

A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters the Chancellor was “concerned” about the judgement passed by the Cologne court last month, which defined religious circumcision as a criminal act against the child.

“It is absolutely clear to the federal government that we want Jewish, we want Muslim religious life in Germany. Circumcisions carried out in a responsible way must not be subject to prosecution in this country,” the apokesman said, adding, “It is urgently necessary that we establish legal certainty. It is clear this cannot be put on the back burner. Freedom to practice religion is a cherished legal principle.”

According to AFP, the German justice ministry is considering three options for new draft legislation to protect circumcisions on religious grounds.

In an interview published Saturday in Die Welt, the leader of Merkel’s conservative parliamentary faction, Volker Kauder, called for a resolution on the right to ritual circumcision to be passed in the Bundestag next Thursday.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/chancellor-merkel-pledges-to-keep-circumcision-legal/2012/07/15/

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