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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Jewish Runners Take On Berlin Marathon Proudly Wearing Israeli Flags

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

When 36-year-old Levi Levine crossed the finish line at today’s BMW Berlin Marathon, his emotions far exceeded his personal pride at having successfully finished the 42-kilometer course.

“This was my tenth marathon, but my first time running in Berlin,” said Levine, a nurse atShaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem who made aliyah to Israel from Manhattan. “We crossed the finish line representing Israel with a lot of pride – I mean, to take part in a marathon as Jew in Berlin with the Israeli flag on my back was very exciting.”

“To think back to what the Jewish people experienced under the Nazis, of a day when they were forced to march to their deaths… to flash forward to where we stand today as a country that can provide the best of care for the most vulnerable of our society, is nothing short of miraculous,” said Levine, who is married with four children.

Levine was part of a team of Jewish runners representing Israel’s ALEH organization, a network of residential facilities for children with severe physical and intellectual disabilities. The team included native Israelis, North American and South African immigrants to Israel and a resident of New Jersey, who started and finished at the iconic Brandenburg Gate, the German landmark used by the Nazis as a party symbol during their rise to power.

“We looked at major international marathons and decided to run in Berlin because we felt it would be particularly meaningful to race there as a team from Israel,” captain Jason Gardner told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). Gardner, who is ALEH’s Director of Development in the USA and Canada, commented that some of the team members have relatives who are Holocaust survivors.

“The team has trained really hard,” said Gardner.

This was ALEH’s first international marathon and the team of runners raised over $15,500 towards their the organization. ALEH runs four residential facilities across Israel, providing rehabilitative and therapeutic treatment, special education and specialized services for over 700 vulnerable children and young adults with disabilities.

ALEH Ascend team members who took part in the Berlin Marathon included Shmuel Shani, Marc Romain, Trevor Solomon, Amir Zuker, Moshe Klaiman, Danny Marx, Sharon Marx, and Lillesol Kane.

“This was a great way to raise awareness for Israel’s disabled, as well as an opportunity to fundraise for ALEH,” added Gardner. “We plan to take on the New York City Marathon next year.”

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

Holocaust Survivor, Speaker Max Mannheimer, 96, Passes Away

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Holocaust survivor and speaker Max Mannheimer passed away Friday at the age of 96 in a Munich hospital, Gabriele Hammermann, director of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial said in a statement.

“The memorial and its employees are mourning a good friend,” Hammermann said.

Steffen Seibert, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote on Twitter that she was “mourning Max Mannheimer — Holocaust survivor, reminder against oblivion and great reconciler. We owe him thanks.”

Mannheimer had been an adviser to the German government on the design and conception of its commemorative works on the Holocaust.

He dedicated his entire life to serving as a witness to the atrocities of the Nazi Third Reich and the memories of the six million Jews whose lives were stolen by them in the Holocaust they perpetrated during World War II. After the war, he painted under the name “ben jakov” — his Hebrew name — to cope with the terrible memories, later writing a book “Late Diary.”

Of his entire family and a new wife, only he and his brother Edgar survived.

Born in the Czech Republic in 1920, he personally survived two death camps, Auschwitz and Dachau, and was a transient resident of Theresienstadt concentration camp prior to those.

After seeing a swastika during a trip to the United States in 1986 and in response, suffering a nervous breakdown, Mannheimer spent the rest of his life giving speeches in schools, universities and concentration camp memorials to ensure that the world never forgot the horror humanity was capable of. Until that point, he had remained silent about the nightmares and depression he suffered, never speaking about his experiences.

Mannheimer was a recipient of the German cross of merit and the French Légion d’honneur. To the younger generation of Germans, his message was simple:

“You aren’t responsible for what happened. But you are responsible for ensuring that it won’t happen again.”

Boruch Dayan HoEmes.

Hana Levi Julian

Analysis: Thursday the Hon. Judge Joseph Haim Shapira Decided to Outlaw Hate

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

“Racism is baseless hatred of the stranger just for being a stranger, on the basis of difference in race or national ethnicity,” opens the Special Audit Report “Education for a Shared Society and Prevention of Racism,” submitted Thursday by State Comptroller and Ombudsman, the Hon. Judge Joseph Haim Shapira.

That’s not the dictionary’s definition of the term, it is, “Racism is the belief that some races of people are better than others (Webster).” According to this calmer and probably more useful definition, it’s OK for me to believe that my race (or ethnicity or any other form of identity) is better than anyone else’s, and as long as I don’t advocate harm to those others, I am entitled to my belief.

But Israeli law, according to Judge Shapira, defines as racism “persecution, humiliation, debasement, expression of hatred, hostility or violence, or causing a quarrel with a group or parts of the population, all because of color or race or national-ethnic origin.”

It’s a flawed definition, which inevitably leads to bad laws and bad audit reports, which, in the end, will have nothing to do, in the end, with any noticeable shift in people’s behavior. The proof is in the pudding, which in our case are the Auditor’s recommendations. They read like the welcome wall at a re-education camp on the outskirts of Saigon, circa 1975.

For instance, the Ministry of Education must create one body that will be authorized to impose education for a shared society and prevention of racism, complete with a high-level steering committee to set policy and for follow-up on implementation, with established metrics for a methodical examination of racism in the education system. This superior body will prepare a long-term and mandatory system-wide action plan to promote education for a shared society between Jews and Arabs, with the necessary budget and human resource allocation.

Just reading this paragraph, you know there’s nothing real in it. You know not one teacher or one child will actually change the way they examine the reality of their identity, but a small army of teachers and the bureaucrats that watch them will take home a paycheck.

I searched the Shapira report for the word “Arabic.” It is not mentioned once. The fact is that most Arab kids know more Hebrew than do Jewish kids, who aren’t particularly interested in the Arabs’ culture or language. That’s not racism, that’s ignorance. And ignorance is exactly the kind of problem the ministry of education can manage. How about a mandatory five weekly hours of Arabic for the Jewish students? Being versatile with the other’s language is the most essential step towards acknowledging and even understanding the other. If hatred is borne by fear and fear in turn is borne by the unknown, just force those students to learn the other side’s language.

The second auditor’s recommendation brings up education for a shared society and prevention of racism through a required cluster of knowledge courses such as civics, homeland and history, to insure that all students in the education system will be exposed to the issue and its different aspects throughout their years in the system.

What happens when the information in this additional knowledge course conflicts with other courses being taught concurrently? Jews study about the 1948 War of Independence, Arabs about the 1948 Catastrophe. These lessons in history always come packed with identity and with a strong negative notion of the other. Judge Shapira insists that “the Ministry of Education must act and turn the subject [of preventing racism] into an inseparable part of educators’ training process.” Do teachers now obscure the parts of history that may fail to qualify as enhancing the love of the other? How do we teach about the 1929 Hebron massacre without value judgments? Were there hateful people in Nazi Germany? If hate is defined as a value to be discouraged, how should we hate evil?

Judge Shapira has one good idea, which doesn’t really require a whole pro-love administration to make it happen. He recommends that the Ministry of Education increase the opportunities for inter-sectorial meetings and integrate teachers from different sectors in the framework of education of the “other” sector, and especially, increase the number of meetings between Arabs and Jews and the number of Arab teachers employed in the framework of Jewish education and vice-a-versa.

It’s a splendid idea, although not for the faint of heart. Assigning Jewish school jobs to Arab teachers fresh out of college and likewise Arab school jobs to new Jewish teachers would likely make them better teachers—unless they quit because their tires were cut for the fourth time in the school parking lot. They will probably become better citizens as well.

The politics of the left rears its ugly head in several spots along the report, and it is most noticeable in Judge Shapira’s recommendation that the Ministry of Education must cooperate with the numerous NGOs “working for a shared society and prevention of racism. This process should be conducted in partnership with the organizations themselves and in accordance with a consistent, long-term policy,” instructs Judge Shapira.

Because, let’s face it, no one knows better than Israel’s leftwing NGOs how to spread peace and the love of the other — provided he or she are not settlers.

David Israel

Some UK Jews Flee Brexit ‘Horrors’ Back to Germany

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

The June 2016 Brexit vote in favor of the UK leaving the European Union has resulted in a rise in the number of British citizens inquiring about an alternative European citizenship, the most popular destination being Germany and Ireland, Deutsche Welle reported. The German Embassy in London announced that on the first week after Brexit it dealt with about 200 inquiries a day, compared with the usual 20. Since then, the Germans have been fielding some 100 inquiries a day throughout the summer.

According to CBC News, these include some descendants of Jewish refugees who escaped Nazi Germany to settle in the UK, who now wish to claim their German citizenship. German law allows anyone stripped of their German citizenship by the Nazis “on political, racial or religious grounds” between 1933 and 1945 to reclaim it, and this includes their descendants.

“I’m like, OK, if I don’t have to give up my British passport, don’t have to speak German and don’t have to have residency, then why not? What do I have to lose?” author and journalist Thomas Harding, whose book “Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz” was published in 2013 by Random House and Simon & Schuster, told CBC.

Harding came from the kind of Jewish refugee family who wouldn’t buy a German car or appliance when he was growing up, never mind reclaim its German citizenship. But he already knows what he would say to those polite German officials who would question him on his motives for coming home to the fatherland. “We never rejected Germany, Germany rejected us,” Harding offers his eloquent explanation. “We were German citizens and the Nazis ceased our citizenship in 1939. My grandmother always felt part of Germany.”

In 1993, a trip He took with his grandmother, Elsie, to look for her family’s summer home, seized by the Nazis in a village near Berlin, became the subject of Harding’s latest book, “The House by the Lake.” So that for Harding Brexit was not so much the reason as the final push for his return to his ancestral country.

An estimated 70,000 Jews fled Nazi persecution to the UK from Germany, Austria and Central Europe before the start of WW2. About 10,000 Jewish children came on the Kindertransport. Today, a German passport offers their descendants the freedom to travel, live and work anywhere in the 28 EU nations, which other Britons have given up with their Brexit vote.

Of course, most of the UK’s estimated 260,000 Jews wouldn’t dream of applying for any EU passport, never mind the German one, although some, we are led to understand, are considering applying for a Blue passport, the one that comes with that controversial anthem, Hatikva.

David Israel

Jordan’s King Asking UN Help on Syrian Refugees, Offering Lip Service on PA

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

The two main concerns Jordan’s King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein brought up in his speech before the UN assembly this week were the need to halt the spread of terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere, and his country’s dire need for help in caring for millions of Syrian refugees that have crossed over from the civil war next door. The king ended his eloquent speech with a scant reference to the Israeli-PA conflict, cautioning that “no injustice has spread more bitter fruit than the denial of a Palestinian State,” and stressing that “Israel has to embrace peace or eventually be engulfed in a sea of hatred.”

Meanwhile, it’s been Jordan being engulfed, as the ISIS hordes have been hammering at its borders from several directions, leaving only one safe border, the one with those bitter fruits of the Israeli-PA conflict. Or, as His Majesty described it, the outlaws of Islam — the “khawarej” — have murdered, plundered, exploited children and rejected the equality of women before God. But he insisted that it was crucial to recognize the difference between that image of Islam and what the religion really teaches.

“False perceptions of Islam and of Muslims will fuel the terrorists’ agenda of a global struggle by polarizing and factionalizing societies, East and West,” the king warned. Islam teaches that all humanity is equal in dignity and that there is no distinction between different nations, regions or races, he said, but the khawarej deliberately hide such truths in order to drive Muslims and non-Muslims apart. “We cannot allow this to happen,” he warned. He explained that those radical outlaws do not exist on the fringes of Islam, but outside it altogether. A new mind-set, new partnerships and reformed methodologies would be needed to confront such a non-traditional enemy. For Muslims it is, first and foremost, a fight for their future.

Admirably truthful and useful ideas, which is why one must wonder how come the king is recommending that, while the rest of the world should be combating these radicals, Israel, his only safe neighbor, should embrace peace with them. It may have to do with the fact that Jordan’s population is 80% “Palestinian,” meaning it is made up of the indefinable hordes who flooded the area from all over the Middle East starting in the 1920s, seeking jobs and safety alongside the Zionist enterprise and under the rule of the British Mandate. Jordan has become a home to many of them who fled Israel during the 1948-49 war, just as it became a home to an estimated 400,000 of them who were deported by Kuwait after the Gulf War of 1991. Indeed, the close to two million refugees who have been invading Jordan in the past five years are no more “Syrian” than the others are “Palestinian.” Those national definitions are synthetic, Western inventions imposed on a region that lives by tribalism.

That was the real message the Jordanian king was sharing with the world in NY City this week, as he put it bluntly in his speech before the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, co-hosted by the US, Jordan, Mexico, Canada, Sweden, Germany and Ethiopia.

“For many years, our country’s security and stability and our citizens’ generous compassion have led desperate refugees to our doors,” King Abdullah II told the summit. “In the past five years the Syrian crisis has sent Jordan’s burden skyrocketing. Some 2.5 million Syrians have crossed into Jordan since 2011. Today we are hosting 1.5 million Syrians, one for every five of our own citizens. Across my country, Jordanians are suffering. No one is justified in questioning our commitment and sacrifices. The economic and social impact has shocked every sector, every community; and it has set back the strides of our economy and has created tremendous problems in our development, job growth and debt reduction. We are spending a quarter of our national budget on refugee-related costs.”

Noting that “all countries agree that the Syrian refugee crisis will be with us all for years to come,” the king warned that “if regional refugee hosts are abandoned and left to fail, the need won’t disappear. The crisis will simply spread further, prolonging the time it takes to end this ordeal. The cost in human suffering will be unspeakable.”

Which is why the takeaway from King Abdullah II’s speech is not about his faint call on Israel to be more peaceful with its terrorist neighbors, but a cry for help in managing the Arab hordes on either side of his gates.


Analysis: Merkel’s Party Losing Badly as Social Democrats, Anti-Immigrant AfD Win Berlin State Vote

Monday, September 19th, 2016

The Social Democrats (SPD) have won roughly 33 of the 149 seats in Berlin’s state assembly, and will continue to lead a coalition government, although it appears that their former partner, the local chapter of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), may no longer be useful, having finished with 17.5% of the vote, its worst showing since 1990. Going into the election, incumbent mayor Michael Müller led a grand coalition of his SPD and the CDU. Meanwhile, Berlin voters have welcomed the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD), giving them 12.9% of the vote and representation in the tenth regional assembly out of Germany’s 16.

The AfD, founded in 2013 as a middle class, conservative party, has adopted last spring a platform based on opposition to Islam, including a call for banning Islamic symbols such as burkhas, minarets and the call to prayer, under the slogan, “Islam is not a part of Germany.” The party is also opposed to gay marriages and denies the role of industry and technology in causing global warming. And it supports reinstating the draft in Germany.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung wrote on Sunday that the AfD gains in a major city like Berlin prove that the party “doesn’t just benefit from discontent in rural areas but can establish itself … in a city of millions that is known for its open lifestyle.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the AfD, who score as high as 15% in national polls, took 20.8% of the vote and finished ahead of the Christian Democrats in the state election in the northeast region of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania two weeks ago.

Incidentally, according to an ARD exit poll, only 32% of Berlin voters said they were afraid of refugees, while 55% said they saw refugees as enriching life in Germany.

The SPD is expected to form a new regional coalition government with the Left and the Greens, who suffered a 2.5% drop to 15.1%.

Mayor Müller warned on Saturday night that a strong AfD showing would be “seen throughout the world as a sign of the resurgence of the right and of Nazis in Germany.” Well, what do you know…

And so, as Germany is stepping once again into a period of economic and political uncertainty and the EU is still licking its wounds following the UK’s departure, the reader is encouraged to avoid reading history books, because they’ll only upset you.


Consumer Confidence in Israel at -15%, on Upward Trend Since October 2015

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Israeli consumer confidence index in August 2016 stood at -15%, down from -11% the month before, but on a positive trend since October 2015, when it stood at -25%, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics announced Sunday. Consumer Confidence in Israel averaged -22.46 from 2011 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of -11.30 in July of 2016 and a record low of -38.47 in September of 2012.

Israel’s consumer confidence is among the lowest in the OECD countries, but in most of these countries, other than in Sweden, Denmark and Finland, consumer confidence has been negative. This includes Germany and the UK.

The reason cited for low consumer confidence in Israel is the lack of attractive and reliable savings and investments programs.

However, in August 2016, according to the CBS, the relative consumer confidence index stood at 112, showing a trend of improvement since June 2013, when the index stood at 41.

According to the CBS, in Israel, the Consumer Confidence indicator measures consumers’ expectations about changes in their household financial situation; about Israel’s general economic situation; about unemployment levels; and about their household saving plans over the next 12 months. The indicator is calculated based on the combination of responses to 4 questions presented to a sample of 759 people ages 21 and older. Consumer confidence is measured on a scale of -100 to +100, where -100 indicates an extreme lack of confidence, 0 means neutral and +100 stands for extreme confidence.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/consumer-confidence-in-israel-at-15-on-upward-trend-since-october-2015/2016/09/12/

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