Posts Tagged ‘Front’
An Israeli flag was burned in front of a Budapest synagogue on Tuesday by members of an ultrarightist Hungarian party as part of their celebrations of an anti-communist revolution taking part in the country in 1956.
Israel’s ambassador to Hungary Ilan Mor appeared on the opposition’s television program that same day, calling on Hungarians to reject this “unacceptable anti-Israel act”.
Hungary’s foreign ministry condemned the act on Wednesday in a statement, saying “the government of Hungary is committed to fighting all forms of anti-Semitism and racism, and stands firm, employing all means necessary, against the dangerous manifestations of extremism… “
Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak on Thursday toured the Northern Command and the Golan Heights along with commanders stationed in the region and told reporters that the IDF is preparing for the possibility that waves of refugees will escape from Syria to the Golan Heights. “If required to stop waves of refugees, we will do so,” he stated.
Barak addressed recent occurrences in Syria, mainly the targeting of top security officials of Bashar al-Assad’s regime by oppositions forces. He said, “What happened yesterday in Damascus will greatly expedite the fall of the Assad family.”
Barak added that “those killed are closest to the regime. The blow is severe; it is severe to the radical axis, to the Iranians and to the Hezbollah terrorist organization, who are the only supporters of the Assad family.”
“The regime in Syria under the Assad family is weakening in front of our very eyes, and soon the Assad family will fall and nobody knows what will happen next,” added Barak. “We are concerned the disorder will bring to the downfall of sensitive systems: there are many chemical weapons in Syria, scattered throughout the country, and many weapons are possessed by civilians.”
The defense minister stressed that the IDF is following up on the possibility that once the Assad regime falls, the Hezbollah terrorist organization will try to transfer advanced weapons systems, heavy missiles and chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Israel’s Home Front Command, in conjunction with the various rescue and emergency bodies in Haifa, the largest city in northern Israel, conducted the largest home front drill ever held there. The exercise simulated hundreds of rockets striking the city, including direct hits on strategic buildings, most notably on Haifa’s Technion University, during which gas masks were distributed to residents in nearby areas.
As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s armored car motorcade was riding through the Egyptian port city of Alexandria where she had given a speech on democratic rights, a tomato hit an accompanying Egyptian official in the face, and shoes and a water bottle were thrown at Hillary’s car, Reuters reports.
According to a senior U.S. official, said Clinton herself was not hit, since her vehicle had already turned a corner by the time of the incident. But she may have been able to hear the taunts of “Monica, Monica” which the protesters were chanting, a reference to the extra-marital affair conducted by her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Others had chanted the Arabic equivalent of ” Clinton go home,” according to an Egyptian security official.
According to Al Ahram, several liberal and Christian politicians and public figures condemned Clinton’s visit to Egypt, accusing the United States of favoring Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. There were several large demonstrations by liberal parties and movements, including the Free Egyptians party and the Front for Peaceful Change, against Clinton’s visit outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the presidential palace and the Four Seasons hotel in which Clinton was staying. The demonstrators were joined by supporters of Mubarak-era vice president Omar Suleiman.
A large group of Christian politicians – including Coptic MP Emad Gad, rights activist Michael Mounir, former MP Georgette Qeleini and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, refused to meet with Clinton during her brief visit to Egypt.
In a joint statement on Sunday, they expressed their displeasure with Clinton’s decision to meet with members of Egypt’s Coptic-Christian community following earlier meetings with Muslim Brotherhood members and Salafists. They asserted that Clinton’s move served to “promote sectarian divisions.”
Clinton met with women and Christians, two groups with reasons to fear repression under a Muslim Brotherhood government.
“I will be honest and say some have legitimate fears about their future,” Clinton told reporters. “I said to them … no Egyptian, no person anywhere, should be persecuted for their faith, or their lack of faith, for their choices about working and not working. Democracy is not just about reflecting the will of the majority. It is also about protecting the rights of the minority.”
Clinton said the U.S. had learned that “the hard way,” pointing out that the U.S. constitution originally did not protect the rights of women or slaves.
Al Ahram reported that on Saturday the Front for Peaceful Change, a pro-revolution youth group, issued a statement calling on the Egyptian public to participate in the protests to register its rejection of perceived U.S. interference in Egypt’s affairs and its deal-making with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al Ahram cites accusations of a secret agreement which was hammered out between the U.S. and the Brotherhood, which the paper says is a common refrain among the opponents of Clinton’s visit.
Emad Gad, a Coptic-Christian member of Egypt’s recently dissolved lower house of parliament, saw Clinton’s visit to Cairo in the context of an alleged U.S.-Brotherhood deal that enabled candidate Mohamed Morsi to assume Egypt’s presidency.
“In exchange for Morsi’s being named president, the Brotherhood is expected to protect Israel’s security by pressuring Hamas – the Brotherhood’s branch in Palestine – not to launch military attacks against Israel, and even accept a peace agreement with Tel Aviv,” Gad told Al-Ahram.
Gad, whom Al Ahram introduces as a prominent political analyst, told the paper that the U.S. was also supporting the Brotherhood in return for maintaining Mubarak-era agreements not to restore ties with Iran.
On Saturday night, according to Reuters, protesters outside Clinton’s Cairo hotel chanted anti-Islamist slogans, accusing the United States of engineering the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power.
In her speech at the recently re-opened U.S. consulate in Alexandria, Clinton rejected suggestions that the United States, which had been an avid supporter of the deposed Mubarak, was backing one faction over another in Egypt.
“I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which of course we cannot,” Clinton said.
“We are prepared to work with you as you chart your course, as you establish your democracy,” she added. “We want to stand for principles, for values, not for people or for parties.”
On March 18, the Germans will appoint a new President. It is a ceremonial function, which the German political class will bestow on the 72-year old pastor Joachim Gauck, a former human rights activist from East Germany. Gauck is backed by the major German parties, from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian-Democrats and her Liberal coalition partners, to the Socialist and the Green opposition parties.
The far-left party, Die Linke (The Left), however, has put forward its own candidate for the function, 73-year old Beate Klarsfeld. She is not a party member, but has been chosen by Die Linke as a symbolic figure.
Beate Klarsfeld, née Künzel, was born in a German Christian family. She has lived in France since the 1960s, after marrying the French Romanian-born lawyer Serge Klarsfeld. Serge is a Jew, whose father was murdered in Auschwitz. In the 1970s and 80s, the Klarsfelds were famous human rights activists who brought several Nazi war criminals to justice. Like her husband, Beate has always been a strong supporter of Israel.
When last week Beate Klarsfeld was asked who of the various candidates for the French presidential elections next April she supports, she did not name Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of the far-left Front de Gauche (Left Front), the French sister party of Die Linke, nor François Hollande, the Socialist candidate who is leading in the polls; she named Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s incumbent president who hopes to win a second term. Of all the French presidential candidates, Sarkozy is the one most friendly towards Israel.
Klarsfeld’s pro-Israeli positions are not shared by Die Linke. Three Linke members of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, remained seated when Israeli President Shimon Peres visited the Bundestag in 2010. Several Linke deputies have also taken part in demonstrations where “Death to Israel” was chanted. Some took part in the so-called “Gaza flotilla.” Inge Höger, a Bundestag member, who attended a pro-Hamas conference clad in a keffiyeh [checkered headscarf for men] showing a map labeled “Palestine” across the entire territory of the State of Israel, accused opponents of “misusing the Holocaust” in silencing criticism of Israeli “occupation policies.” The German newspaper Die Welt has called Höger a “flawless anti-Semite” because of her “anti-Jewish statements.” Independent academic observers have warned that positions hostile to both Israel and Jews are increasingly dominant within Die Linke.
With this record, it seems puzzling why Die Linke put Beate Klarsfeld forward as its candidate for the presidency. The answer is probably that the party, knowing that Klarsfeld does not stand a chance, just wants to annoy the ruling German Christian-Democrat establishment — many of whose members still bear a personal grudge against Klarsfeld for her campaign in the 1960s against Kurt Georg Kiesinger, a Christian-Democrat who was West German Chancellor from 1966 to 1969. During the war, Kiesinger, a Nazi Party member, had worked at the propaganda department of the Foreign Ministry. In 1968, Beate Klarsfeld slapped Kiesinger in the face, an action for which she was sentenced to one year in prison – a sentence later reduced to four months probation.
In 2009, Die Linke nominated Beate Klarsfeld for the Federal Cross of Merit in honor of her relentless efforts to bring Nazi criminals to court. The request was turned down by the German government. One year later, in stark contrast to Beate’s treatment by the German political establishment, the French government awarded her husband Serge the title of Commander in the Legion of Honor.
The revelation that, almost seven decades after the defeat of Germany’s Nazi regime, Germany still has more problems with the Klarsfelds than with France, should not come as a surprise. History seems to leave deep cultural impressions which are difficult to eradicate.
Last year, two German economists, Nico Voigtländer of the UCLA in Los Angeles and Hans-Joachim Voth of the university of Barcelona, Spain, published a paper in which they showed a remarkable geographical pattern between the anti-Jewish pogroms in 14th century Germany, 1920s pogroms in Germany, and the electoral strength of the Nazi Party in 1928 (before it became a mass movement attracting all sorts of opportunists).
Their study showed that German towns that blamed the Black Death – the pestilence epidemic – in 1348-1350 on the Jews and subsequently murdered them were much more likely to commit anti-Semitic violence in the 1920s and vote for the Nazis.
Of the 19 pogroms recorded in the 1920s, fully 18 took place in towns and cities with a record of medieval violence against Jews. In the places with a 14th century history of Jew-burning, the Nazi Party received 1.5 times as many votes as in places without it. In cities like Aachen, for example, the Jews were left undisturbed in 1349, while they were massacred in Würzburg. In the 1920s and 30s, Würzburg was again the scene of anti-Jewish violence, while Aachen witnessed no such violence. In the 1928 elections, the Nazi Party got 6.3 percent of the Würzburg vote, twice the national average, while in Aachen it got barely 1 percent.
Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. His book “the Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.