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July 28, 2016 / 22 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘German’

Synagogue Arson in Germany ‘Not Anti-Semitism’ Says Judge

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Three German Palestinians convicted of arson after hurling firebombs at a synagogue in Germany were motivated by trying to bring “attention to the Gaza conflict,” according to the judge who convicted them on Thursday, Jerusalem Post journalist Benjamin Weinthal reported.

The judge in the case did not believe the men were guilty of anti-Semitism, according to outraged Green Party deputy Volker Beck, who told media he wrote to the prosecutor in the case to file a legal objection, reported.

Several days prior to the firebombing, “Free Palestine” had been sprayed in paint on to the wall of the synagogue as well.

The rebuilt synagogue in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia was undamaged in the July 29, 2014 attack, which sparked a solidarity rally outside the building that same night. Dieter Graumann, then-president of the German Central Council of Jews, condemned the attack as did Germany’s Central Council of Muslims.

The two older attackers, ages 29 and 24, were given suspended sentences of 15 months in prison – which means they served no time – and together with their 18-year-old accomplice were ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

“This is a mistaken decision as far as the motives of the perpetrators are concerned,” Beck told international media in a statement. “Therefore, I have written the prosecutor and called for the filing of a legal objection.“ Burning a synagogue in Germany because of a conflict in the Middle East can be attributed only to anti-Semitism, Beck contended.

“What do Jews in Germany have to do with the Middle East conflict? Every bit as much as Christians, non-religious people or Muslims in Germany, namely, absolutely nothing. The ignorance of the judiciary toward anti-Semitism is for many Jews in Germany especially alarming, he said.”

The original Wuppertal synagogue was burned down by Germans during the pogrom of Kristallnacht in 1938, but the echoes of the past seem to be growing louder. The German state has seen an upswing in anti-Semitism, as has the country in general.

Anti-Semitism in Germany is on the rise, according to the Central Council of Jews in Germany, as it is in other countries across Europe.

Graumann offered a sobering comment on the situation just before leaving his post in an interview with BILD newspaper in November 2014: “For a while I noticed that anti-Semitism is becoming increasingly public and is no longer hidden. We often receive anti-Semitic messages sent according to name and address. Some people are no longer ashamed and no longer hide their hostility to Jews.

“We have seen … during the war in Gaza, demonstrations of pure primitive hatred against the Jews that broke out again. It is very hard for me to talk about it but, when there are calls in the streets of Germany, ‘Jews to the gas,’ it hurts us greatly,” he added.

Two weeks prior to the publication of Graumann’s interview, the neo-Nazi ‘Die Rechte’ party (The Right) demanded to know where all the Jews live in the city of Dortmund.

‘Die Rechte’ wrote to Mayor Ullrich Sierau through one of its city council members, Dennis Giemsch, seeking to know how many Jews live in the city and in which districts, and their addresses, according to a post on the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism (CFCA).

Giemsch, a full-time computer student, wrote that the information was ‘relevant for our political work.’

The demand was refused and the letter was passed to the Interior Ministry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia – the same state in which the torched synagogue is located – and which is “looking at ways to legally ban the party.”

The political party is the smallest of the far-right groups in Germany, but its numbers are growing, particularly among the young, according to the CFCA.

Hana Levi Julian

German Gov’t Charges Local Syrian Fighter with Terrorism

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

The German government is charging a man in Berlin with membership in a terrorist organization after he returned from fighting for the opposition forces in the Syrian civil war.

The 26 year old was also charged as an accessory to manslaughter and attempted incitement to murder, international media reported.

In accordance with local privacy laws, only his first name – Harun P. – was released. The man allegedly traveled to Syria last September to join the radical Islamist group, Junud al-Sham. He is accused of participating in an operation in February to free prisoners from a government jail, leaving two Syrian soldiers dead in the process.

He is also alleged to have urged – unsuccessfully – the murder of two individuals who considered bringing a 16-year-old relative to Germany due to his fears she would inform authorities about his activities.

Jewish Press News Briefs

The Unpredicted Consequences of the German Elections

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

The German elections had two important consequences, one predicted, the other one unpredicted. As expected, the number of Islamic members of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, has increased.

The Christian-Democrat CDU of Chancellor Angela Merkel now has its first Muslim parliamentarian. Cemile Giousouf, the 35-year old daughter of a Turkish immigrant, was elected in Hagen, a city in the industrial Ruhr area with a foreign population of 40%.

Germany has 800,000 Turkish voters. The Turks make up the largest ethnic group within Germany’s Muslim population of some 4 million people, Previously, the Turks had five parliamentarians out of 630 Bundestag members; in the 22 September general elections, this number more than doubled to eleven. Ten of them belong to the left or far-left – five are members of the Social-Democrat SPD, three of the Green Party, and two of the Communist Die Linke (Left Party) — and one is with the center-right CDU.

The number of Bundestag members with an immigrant background rose from 21 to 34, with Die Linke having the highest percentage of immigrant politicians in their ranks followed by the Greens.

Ms. Giousouf’s Islamic convictions — her “religious otherness” as she calls it — did not pose problems for a party that claims to be founded on Christian-Democrat principles. Her candidacy was challenged, however, by another female candidate on grounds of seniority. Despite the other candidate having been active in the party for three decades, the CDU leadership preferred to give the prominent position on the party list to Giousouf because of her ethnic background. Ms. Giousouf defended this decision by stating, “If we immigrants are forced to put up campaign posters for the next 30 years, there won’t be any [immigrant] representatives in the Bundestag.”

For the first time, two black candidates were elected in the Bundestag. One of them, Charles Muhamed Huber, for Merkel’s CDU, the other, Karamba Diaby, for the Social-Democrat SPD. Both Mr Huber and Mr Diaby are of Senegalese origin.

While the international media devoted relatively little attention to Mr. Huber — despite his self-declared sympathy for the American Black Panther movement — there was huge interest in Mr Diaby, who was born in 1961 in the Muslim village of Masassoum. Through his political activities at Dakar University in the early 1980s, he came into contact with a Communist organization. In 1985, he was given a scholarship to study in Communist East Germany, where he subsequently settled.

Mr Diaby joined the SPD and became the national chairman of Gemany’s Immigration and Integration Council (Bundeszuwanderungs-und Integrationsrat). Two years ago, he gained prominence when he advocated the imprisonment of Thilo Sarrazin, a fellow SPD politician and a former member of the Executive Board of the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank. Mr. Sarrazin had authored a book, Deutschland schafft sich ab [Germany Abolishes Itself], in which he said that Islamic immigration is threatening Germany’s prosperity and freedom. Mr. Sarrazin argued that most Islamic immigrants are unwilling to integrate and tend to rely more on welfare benefits than do other immigrant groups.

Turkish and Islamic organizations accused Sarrazin of “racism,” but were unable to get him sentenced in court. The SPD leadership twice attempted to throw Mr. Sarrazin out of the party, but both attempts were unsuccessful. Polls indicated that Sarrazin was backed by an overwhelming majority of the Germans, including SPD members. Mr. Diaby petitioned the Bundestag, demanding that German criminal law be changed to ensure that statements such as those made in Sarrazin’s book would be punishable with a prison sentence. The German lawmakers, however, failed to do so. The SPD leadership subsequently gave Mr. Diaby a prominent place on its electoral list, which enabled him to be elected as a lawmaker, so that he is now in a position to try to change German laws from within the parliament.

While the growth of Islamic influence within the German political system, including the Christian-Democrat Party, was predicted, an unpredicted consequence of the September 22 general elections was the Bundestag’s swing to the left, despite the electorate’s swing to the right. This is the result of the German electoral system with its 5% electoral threshold.

The biggest winners of the elections were Chancellor Merkel’s center-right Christian-Democrats. They won 41.5% of the vote — far better than in the 2009 general elections, when they had 33.7%.

The biggest losers were the Liberals. The German Liberal Party FDP, which is economically to the right of Merkel’s CDU, fell from 14.6% in 2009 to 4.8%. The electorate punished the FDP, which had promised its voters tax cuts but, despite forming a government coalition with Ms. Merkel, failed to deliver on this promise.

Although the FDP won over 2 million of the 43.7 million votes, as the party was unable to make the 5% hurdle, and as a result it did not get a single parliamentary seat. The same applied to the conservative Alternative fuer Deutschland party (AfD), a newly established party, critical of the euro. AfD won 4.7% of the vote, an unexpectedly high result for a new party, but not a single representative. The far-right NPD won 1.3%. Taken together, 10.8% of the electorate voted for a party to the right of Merkel’s Christian-Democrats, but not a single parliamentarian to Merkel’s right got elected.

Merkel’s Christian-Democrats, the FDP, AfD and NPD combined won 52.3% of the vote (51%, excluding the far-right NPD). However, in the Bundestag the parties of the Left — SPD, Greens and the Communists of Die Linke – hold 50.7% of the seats.

That the FDP fell just below the electoral threshold deprives Merkel of the possibility to form a center-right coalition. Theoretically, the left is able to form a coalition with the far-left, but as the SPD had ruled out governing with Die Linke, Germany is left with just two choices: Either a coalition of Merkel with the leftist Greens, or a so-called “grand coalition” of the CDU with the center-left SPD.

In any event, Germany’s new coalition will be to the left of the previous CDU-FDP coalition, while the voters had clearly indicated that they wanted Germany to turn to the right. The future looks promising, however, for AfD. Never before has a party that was established barely a few months before, done so well in the elections. And given that Merkel will be forced to move to the left, the prospect of disenchanted conservative Christian-Democrats flocking to AfD are huge. There is little doubt that AfD will gain seats in the European Parliament in next year’s European elections. If the AfD leadership manages to avoid internal quarrels, in 2017 the party will likely enter the Bundestag.

Peter Martino

‘It Can Be Done’: the Rosh Hashana 1943 Escape of Danish Jews

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

As the final minutes of Rosh Hashanah ticked away, 13-year-old Leo Goldberger was hiding, along with his parents and three brothers, in the thick brush along the shore of Dragor, a small fishing village south of Copenhagen. The year was 1943, and the Goldbergers, like thousands of other Danish Jews, were desperately trying to escape an imminent Nazi roundup.

“Finally, after what seemed like an excruciatingly long wait, we saw our signal offshore,” Goldberger later recalled. His family “strode straight into the ocean and waded through three or four feet of icy water until we were hauled aboard a fishing boat” and covered themselves “with smelly canvases.” Shivering and frightened, but grateful, the Goldberger family soon found itself in the safety and freedom of neighboring Sweden.

For years, Allied leaders had insisted that nothing could be done to rescue Jews from the Nazis except to win the war. But in one extraordinary night, seventy years ago next month, the Danish people exploded that myth and changed history.

When the Nazis occupied Denmark during the Holocaust in 1940, the Danes put up little resistance. As a result, the German authorities agreed to let the Danish government continue functioning with greater autonomy than other occupied countries. They also postponed taking steps against Denmark’s 8,000 Jewish citizens.

In the late summer of 1943, amid rising tensions between the occupation regime and the Danish government, the Nazis declared martial law and decided the time had come to deport Danish Jews to the death camps. But Georg Duckwitz, a German diplomat in Denmark, leaked the information to Danish friends. Duckwitz was later honored by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. As word of the Germans’ plans spread, the Danish public responded with a spontaneous nationwide grassroots effort to help the Jews.

The Danes’ remarkable response gave rise to the legend that King Christian X himself rode through the streets of Copenhagen on horseback, wearing a yellow Star of David, and that the citizens of the city likewise donned the star in solidarity with the Jews.

The story may have had its origins in a political cartoon that appeared in a Swedish newspaper in 1942. It showed King Christian pointing to a Star of David and declaring that if the Nazis imposed it upon the Jews of Demark, “then we must all wear the star.” Leon Uris’s novel Exodus, and the movie based on that book, helped spread the legend. But subsequent investigations by historians have concluded that the story is a myth.

On Rosh Hashanah – which fell on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in 1943 – and the days that followed, numerous Danish Christian families hid Jews in their homes or farms, and then smuggled them to the seashore late at night. From there, fishermen took them across the Kattegat Straits to neighboring Sweden.

The three-week operation had the strong support of Danish church leaders, who used their pulpits to urge aid to the Jews, as well as Danish universities, which shut down so that students could assist the smugglers. More than 7,000 Danish Jews reached Sweden and were sheltered there until the end of the war.

Esther Finkler, a young newlywed, was hidden, together with her husband and their mothers, in a greenhouse.

“At night, we saw the [German] searchlights sweeping back and forth throughout the neighborhood” as the Nazis hunted for Jews, Esther later recalled. One evening, a member of the Danish Underground arrived and drove the four “through streets saturated with Nazi stormtroopers” to a point near the shore.

There they hid in an underground shelter, and then in the attic of a bakery, until finally they were brought to a beach, where they boarded a small fishing vessel together with other Jewish refugees.

“There were nine of us, lying down on the deck or the floor,” Esther said. “The captain covered us with fishing nets. When everyone had been properly concealed, the fishermen started the boat, and as the motor started to run, so did my pent-up tears.”

Then, suddenly, trouble. “The captain began to sing and whistle nonchalantly, which puzzled us. Soon we heard him shouting in German toward a passing Nazi patrol boat: ‘Wollen sie einen beer haben?’ (Would you like a beer?) – a clever gimmick designed to avoid the Germans’ suspicions. After three tense hours at sea, we heard shouting: ‘Get up! Get up! And welcome to Sweden!’ It was hard to believe, but we were now safe. We cried and the Swedes cried with us as they escorted as ashore. The nightmare was over,” Esther recalled.

Dr. Rafael Medoff

Norwegian Police Apologize for Deporting Jews to Auschwitz

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

On November 26, 70 years after the rounding up and deportation of over 500 Jewish Norwegians to Auschwitz, the Norwegian Police Service issued an apology for taking part in the murder of Jews.  The request for forgiveness came from Norwegian Police Chieff Odd Reidar Humlegaard.

On the same date in 1942, Norwegian police herded 532 Jewish citizens aboard the German ship SS Donau en route to Auschwitz.

This year, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg issued a formal apology for the Norwegian government’s role in deporting Jews to Auschwitz.

Only a few dozen of the 770 Jews deported from Nazi-occupied Norway survived the war.  Hitler invaded Norway on April 9, 1940 and remained in the country until May 1945.

Malkah Fleisher

French Jewish Students Taking Twitter to Court

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

France’s main Jewish student union reportedly has petitioned a Paris court to order Twitter to divulge details about users who post anti-Semitic comments.

Attorney Stephane Lilti, who represents the Union of French Jewish Students, or UEJF, told the French news agency AFP on Tuesday that a hearing is set for Jan. 8 in a Paris court.

In October, the UEJF asked Twitter to take down offending tweets that had flooded the site under the hashtag #unbonjuif (#agoodjew), with examples including: “#agoodjew is a dead Jew.” The hashtag became the third most popular in France. UEJF said it would sue if Twitter did not comply with demands to remove the tweets and disclose details about the users that posted them.

The decision to remove the messages came soon after Twitter shut down an account used by a German neo-Nazi group based in Hanover. The block was imposed at the request of German police. Facebook and YouTube have agreed to block the group’s accounts.

A Twitter spokesman refused at the time to comment directly on the tweets about Jews and reiterated the company’s standard response that it “does not mediate content.” According to the standards, Twitter cannot delete tweets, but does allow for accounts generating content in breach of its rules or considered illegal to be suspended.

Twitter also said it would not hand over details of account holders unless ordered by a judge.

JTA

Is Israel’s Response ‘Disproportionate’?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The fact that the casualty toll from the first days of the Gaza fighting was three Israelis and 30 Arabs “underscores what critics of Israeli policy called Israel’s disproportionate use of military force,” The New York Times reported on Nov. 17.

If the body count determines whether an army’s actions are justified, then the historical record contains more than a few surprises.

In early 1916, Pancho Villa’s revolutionaries murdered 16 Americans in northern Mexico, and then 18 more in a cross-border raid into New Mexico. President Woodrow Wilson responded by sending American troops, led by Major-General John Pershing, after Villa. In a series of battles between March and June, the Americans lost 15 men, while Villa’s forces suffered about 200 dead.

Did anybody accuse Pershing of using too much force?

Fast forward 25 years. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, left 2,330 Americans dead. The United States responded not with a raid of similar size, but a full-scale war against the Japanese throughout the Pacific, culminating in the dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese mainland. By the time the war was over, Japan had lost an estimated one million soldiers and two million civilians, including the approximately 200,000 civilians killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Was America’s response disproportionate?

President Harry Truman didn’t think so. Here’s what he said about using a nuclear weapon: “We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.”

The German blitzkrieg rained terror on London and other British cities every night for eight straight months from September 1940 to May 1941. About 40,000 British civilians were killed in those German bombings.

But in just three nights, the Allied bombing of the German city of Dresden claimed an estimated 20,000 lives. Other Allied bombings of Germany brought the civilian death toll there to far more than what the British had suffered.

The chief marshal of the British air force, Arthur Harris, had this to say about Dresden: “Attacks on cities, like any other act of war, are intolerable unless they are strategically justified. But they are strategically justified insofar as they tend to shorten the war and preserve the lives of Allied soldiers. To my mind we have absolutely no right to give them up unless it is certain that they will not have this effect. I do not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier.”

Altogether, an estimated 3.2 million German soldiers, and 3.6 million German civilians, died in the war. Compare that to American and British losses. The U.S. suffered 362,561 military deaths in World War II. The British lost 264,433 soldiers, 30,248 merchant navymen, and 60,595 civilians, for a total of 355,276.

By the standards of today’s Mideast pundits, would that mean the Allies’ military actions were disproportionate?

More recent conflicts raise similar questions.

The Korean War, for example. Casualty figures are impossible to determine precisely, but there is no doubt that the North Koreans and their Chinese allies suffered many more losses than the U.S. and South Korea.

The U.S. lost 36,576 soldiers; the South Koreans more than 100,000 soldiers and some 300,000 civilians. By contrast, North Korean military losses were probably around 400,000, and Chinese fatalities were probably in the vicinity of 500,000. Together with North Korean civilian deaths, the casualty total on their side was well over one million. Does that indicate the Americans used disproportionate force?

In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. The U.S. and its allies came to Kuwait’s defense. About 25,000 Iraqi soldiers and more than 3,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. The U.S. suffered 294 losses; the other members of its coalition lost a combined total of 188. Did the Americans overdo it?

Consider Afghanistan. About 3,000 Americans were killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The U.S. and its allies responded by attacking Al Qaeda and its Taliban supporters in Afghanistan. As of this writing, more than 2,000 American soldiers, and more than 1,000 other allied soldiers, have died in Afghanistan, as well as some 10,000 Afghan soldiers. Estimates for Al Qaeda and Taliban casualty totals vary, but they certainly number in the tens of thousands – far more than the Americans and their allies. Should we conclude that the Bush and Obama administrations have used disproportionate force in Afghanistan?

Dr. Rafael Medoff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/is-israels-response-disproportionate/2012/11/21/

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