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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’

Rabbi Cooper Gives ‘Em Hell in Berlin

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

On Thursday, during a visit to Berlin, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles called German publisher Jakob Augstein an anti-Semite. This after the SWC had included comments made by Augstein in its list of the top 10 anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slurs of 2012, the Spiegel reported.

“Based on his behavior and his words since the release of the list, we can say, yes, we are dealing with an anti-Semite,” Cooper reiterated, explaining that the list was focused on anti-Semitic slurs, not necessarily on the individual.

In Berlin, Rabbi Cooper criticized a column written by Augstein for Spiegel Online on the issue of ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, Jews.

Augstein has witten:

“Israel is threatened by Islamic fundamentalists in its neighborhood. But the Jews also have their fundamentalists, the ultra-orthodox Haredim. They are not a small splinter group. They make up 10% of the Israeli population. They are cut from the same cloth as their Islamic fundamentalist opponents. They follow the law of revenge.”

Cooper said at a Thursday’s forum in Berlin that he wants to know from Augstein how many suicide attacks have been carried out by Haredi Jews within and outside of Israel. Because of their appearance, he said, Haredi Jews were some of the first victims of the Nazi regime. Recently, he said, they have been killed in France and attacked on the streets of Berlin.

Here are the rest of the quotes provided by the SWC in its “2012 Top Ten Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs” (PDF):

“With backing from the US, where the president must secure the support of Jewish lobby groups, and in Germany, where coping with history, in the meantime, has a military component, the Netanyahu government keeps the world on a leash with an ever-swelling war chant.”

“Israel’s nuclear power is a danger to the already fragile peace of the world. This statement has triggered an outcry. Because it’s true. And because it was made by a German, Guenter Grass, author and Nobel Prize winner. That is the key point. One must, therefore, thank him for taking it upon himself to speak for us all.”

“The fire burns in Libya, Sudan, Yemen, in countries which are among the poorest on earth. But those who set the fires live elsewhere. Furious young people burn the American, and recently, the German flag. They, too, are victims, just like the dead at Benghazi and Sanaa. Whom does this all this violence benefit? Always the insane and unscrupulous. And this time it’s the U.S. Republicans and Israeli government.”

“Gaza is a place out of the end of times….1.7 million people live there on 360 sq. kilometers. Israel incubates its own opponents there.”

It may be debatable whether all the above statements are outright anti-Semitic or simply critical, and, indeed, several public individuals have come out in protest of the SWC’s inclusion of Augstein in a list that features Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and the Iranian regime.

“The choice of Jakob Augstein for ninth place on the list of the 10 worst anti-Semites is a serious intellectual and strategic error made by the Simon Wiesenthal Center,” wrote the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Not only has a critical journalist been placed in a group into which he doesn’t belong, the nine other people and groups who have justifiably been pilloried can now exculpate themselves by pointing to such arbitrariness.”

Rabbi Cooper, for his part, said Augstein has had the opportunity to reflect on his statements and to apologize to his German readers and to the Jewish people, which he has not done.

Augstein has rejected the accusations, and the Central Council of Jews in Germany criticized Augstein’s statements, even though the council’s president Dieter Graumann has said that Augstein does not belong on the list, and Council Vice President Salomon Korn said about Augstein: “I never had the impression that what he wrote was anti-Semitic.”

Perhaps the honorable Graumann and Korn could provide that much needed data concerning Haredi suicide bombers.

Europe’s Financial Crisis Weighs on Israel’s Economic Outlook

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

The austerity package passed by Spain’s parliament last Thursday has done little to calm economic jitters worldwide, with the effects being felt in Israel as the Bank of Israel (BoI) is set to decide today whether to lower its key interest rate for a second straight month.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party pushed through the controversial plan to cut state spending by some $80 billion, despite stiff resistance from opposition parties. The package includes a rise in the Value-Added Tax (VAT) rate from 18 percent to 21 percent and the reduction of unemployment benefits. Spain is struggling with an unemployment rate of around 25%, and has sought to ease its banking crisis by obtaining a bailout from the Eurozone.

On the same day that the austerity package was passed, German parliament approved an aid package for the Spanish banking sector worth approximately $146 billion. Many commentators in Germany expressed concern over the utility of another bailout. German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented: “The reality is that Spain is getting aid with loosened conditions. Soon Italy will ask, too. And the other reality is that, instead of investors, once again (mainly German) taxpayers will have to pay for the faulty speculation of banks.”

In Israel, the opening of the trading week on Monday morning saw the shekel-dollar exchange rate crossing the NIS 4/$1 line. The current shekel-dollar rate is at a three-year high, while the shekel-euro rate is 0.68% lower, at NIS 4.8705/€1. Later on Monday, the BoI is expected to announce its key interest rate for August, with some analysts speculating that the rate will be lowered for a second straight month, from 2.25% to 2%. Last month, the BoI cut the rate from 2.5% to its current rate.

Moti Bassok and Ram Ozeri, writing in Haaretz, explained that while a cheaper shekel makes Israeli imports more enticing, lower interest rates diminish foreign demand for shekel-based investments – which in turn tends to lower the shekel’s value. Supporters of an interest rate cut cite recent slower economic growth and weak foreign trade figures. The recent performance of Spanish government bonds have heightened fears that Spain will require much more assistance than last week’s $146 billion bailout, and Spain’s fiscal difficulties are causing the Euro to tumble, reaching a new low of approximately $1.2083/€1.

Israel is watching the continuing European debt crisis warily, as the European Union is Israel’s top trading partner. But despite Europe’s economic woes and trepidation in Israel, the EU is set to intensify relations with Israel by approving up to 60 new cooperative initiatives, according to AFP.

The initiatives are expected to be endorsed on Tuesday at the the annual Israel-EU Association Council meetings in Brussels. Predictably, they are sparking indignation from certain corners, as they come only two months after the EU’s statement condemning Israel for actions that “threaten to make a two-state solution impossible” – ie. settlement building, “settler extremism,” and “provocations against Palestinian civilians.”

According to AFP, the initiatives will include heightened cooperation in the energy and transportation sectors, and more closely-coordinated relations with a variety of EU agencies.

A European diplomat, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, was critical of increasing bilateral relations, saying: “Once again we’re hearing critical words on the one hand but it’s business as usual on the other…EU statements on the peace process are no more than theatre.”

Paul Hirschson, deputy spokesman at Israel’s foreign ministry, pointed out that the increased cooperation “is related to the existing work plan rather than some sort of upgrade, because that way the EU would have to find a way of delinking it from the peace process.”

In 2008, Israel’s attempt to enhance ties with the EU was stifled when the bloc suspended discussions because of Israel’s offensive against the Hamas regime in Gaza. It thereafter declared that any progress in bilateral relations would be conditional on progress in the Middle East peace process.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman left for Brussels on Monday and will be attending a meeting of the Israel-EU Association Council.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/europes-financial-crisis-weigh-on-israels-economic-outlook/2012/07/23/

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