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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

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.

JNi.Media

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.

JNi.Media

Senior German Lawmaker Says Law of Integration is Solution to Jewish Community Fears

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

A senior German politician suggested to a Jewish gathering last week that the Jewish community’s fears over growing extremism in the country can be solved by passing a proposed Law of Integration.

Johannes Kahrs, one of the leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the second-largest political party in Germany, visited the Berlin Jewish Community Center last week to address community issues and answer questions from the public. The conference was hosted by Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, spiritual leader of the Jewish community in Berlin and arranged by Mr. Stefan Hensel, Chairman of the German-Israeli Association in Hamburg in cooperation with Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky, Rabbi of the Jewish community in Hamburg, which Kahrs represents in the Budenstag. The conference took place in the main reception hall of the Jewish Community Center Synagogue and was attended by some fifty guests, including members of the Jewish community and a delegation of youth leaders and activists from Hamburg.

Kahrs referenced the proposed Law of Integration in response to a questions about ways the German government might resolve the Jewish community’s fears of the growing wave of extremism in the country from the surge of foreign immigrants and war in ISIS. “Instead of requiring potential immigrants to approach German Embassies in their native countries to fill out forms and undergo a preliminary interview—they simply haven’t done it. Presently, everyone just comes straight to Germany, and we can’t know who’s coming. Practically, this will take time, but we need to instill democratic foundations in these people until we succeed.”

Kahrs attacked the extreme right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which will contend in two weeks’ time in municipal elections in Berlin and, according to recent surveys taken, is slated to enter the city’s government. “Integration can only succeed if there are people working actively to promote it, and there is sufficient funding,” Kahrs said. “The fundamental problem here is that there are between eight and ten percent of people who aren’t interested in integration.

“Most people want to live together in harmony, but there are others who fear change and are busy negating others. But, slowly, we can make a change. Practically, there is no immediate response or magic solution, but each and every person can work on this. AfD exploits people’s fears to advance their political agendas.”

Kahrs added that surveys indicate 20 percent to 25 percent of the public in certain areas will vote AfD “because the latter appeals to them and convinces them that all our country’s problems are rooted in the immigrants. It doesn’t reflect the truth at all, but it’s easy and convenient to believe.”

The lawmaker has previously served as one of the leading spokesmen for the German-Turkish Parliamentary Friendship Group advocating the admission of Turkey into the European Union. At the conference, he was asked about his current stance following motions to cease negotiations in response to Erdogan’s harsh retaliation against the revolution attempt.

“I know that I’m in the minority, but I believe that we must communicate openly with Turkey, because that’s the only way we can influence them to honor various religions, minorities, and to act against capital punishment,” Kahrs replied. “Only if we talk to them, and continue doing so for a long time, will we perhaps succeed in fifteen years to change them and influence society there.”

Rabbi Teichtal thanked Kahrs for the visit, noting that “The Jewish community in Berlin opposes extremism – both religious and right-wing political. In this tense period, the paramount goal for us as community leaders is to promote tolerance, patience, and to give a personal example of this in all our activities.”

Hana Levi Julian

US Company Objects to Israeli-German Drone Deal

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

An American defense contractor has objected to a deal reached by Israel to lease the Heron TP unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to Germany for approximately 650 million euros.

As a result, the contract for the drone was put on hold after US defense contractor General Atomics began legal proceedings against the German Defense Ministry, claiming the deal was reached without opening the tender for bidding by other companies.

General Atomics (GA), which also manufactures drones, also pressured Germany to accept U.S. products over others, due to the membership of both nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO.) The company is a major force in the U.S. defense industry.

It’s a known fact that GA’s drone — called the “Predator B” — is smaller than the Israeli Heron TP (referred to by the Israeli Air Force as the “Eitan”) and has the ability to stay aerial for only 14 hours, as opposed to the Eitan’s 70 hours’ aerial staying power.

The Germany Ministry of Defense shared a letter with Reuters explaining that the case by General Atomic has already been dismissed once by a lower German court, and it is assumed the appeal will uphold that ruling. Nevertheless, the issue has forced the ministry to postpone its deal with Israel for the next three to nine months.

Hana Levi Julian

Leaked German Report Accusing Turkey of Supporting Terrorism

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

A confidential German Interior Ministry report accusing the Turkish government of supporting terrorism across the Middle East was leaked to the German broadcaster ARD Tuesday. According to the document, the Erdogan regime supports Hamas, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and several Islamist rebel groups in Syria. The document was originally provided by the Bundestag to the leftwing party Die Linke.

ARD cited the document as saying that “the many expressions of solidarity and support actions by the ruling AKP and President Erdogan for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and groups of armed Islamist opposition in Syria emphasize their ideological affinity with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Founded in 1928 and inspired by the fascistic ideology of the time, the Muslim Brotherhood has been the largest, best-organized, and most disciplined Suni opposition force in Egypt and in other countries — to the point where, for a brief moment in 2011-12, it captured the Egyptian presidency. In 2006, Hamas, an offshoot of the MB, captured the Gaza Strip where it remains the sole sovereign.

The leaked German report says Ankara has deepened its ties with the MB, Hamas and the Syrian groups and is serving as their “platform for action” in the region.

“As a result of the step-by-step Islamization of its foreign and domestic policy since 2011, Turkey has become the central platform for action by Islamist groups in the Middle East,” ARD cited from the document.

MP Sevim Dagdalen of the Linke party told ARD “the German government cannot publicly designate the godfather of terrorism Erdogan as a partner, while internally warning about Turkey as a hub for terrorism.”

The German government has so far declined comment on the leaked document. But earlier Germany’s European affairs minister Michael Roth said Germany plans to continue raising its concerns about President Erdogan’s Detention of tens of thousands of people as part of his crackdown on suspected coup supporters.

On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that Turkey might abandon its promise to retain on its soil the millions of migrants and refugees pushing to get to Europe if the EU not grant Turkish travelers visa-free entry. This despite the €3 billion Turkey has received in grants to care for this population.

JNi.Media

Liberman Apologizes to Obama for Munich Comparison

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Last Friday, Israel’s Defense Ministry reacted sharply to the claim by President Obama that it, too, has reached the conclusion that the Iran nuclear deal improved security in the Middle East. The Defense Ministry, in an unsigned announcement, compared the Iran deal to the Munich accords of 1938, saying that the “basic assumption, that Nazi Germany could be a partner to any kind of agreement, was wrong,” and the world failed to prevent WW2 and the Holocaust, because world leaders at the time ignored the explicit threats made by Hitler and the rest of the Nazi leadership.

On Monday night, Defense Minister Liberman had to walk back his office’s statement, and apologize to the US. The Defense Ministry’s announcement Monday insisted the Friday release had been misunderstood by the media, and that “the State of Israel and the Israeli defense apparatus will continue to work in close and full cooperation with the US, out of a deep appreciation and mutual respect.” However, the new announcement explained, “Israel remains deeply concerned over the fact that even after the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Iranian leadership continues to declare that its central aim is the destruction of the State of Israel, and continues to threaten Israel’s existence with words and action.”

According to Ha’aretz, some 45 minutes after the Friday announcement, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has had his own clashes with the current Administration, rushed to release his own statement, clarifying that “Prime Minister Netanyahu still believes that Israel has no greater ally than the United States.” Netanyahu then sent a senior advisor to US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, to explain that the Defense Minister had acted on his own, without Netanyahu’s approval.

On Sunday, the White House staff let the Israelis know they were fuming, and unable to understand how Israel chooses to attack the president in the midst of negotiating the biggest military aid package the US had ever awarded anyone on planet Earth.

Amb. Shapiro, who maintains a close relationship with Liberman, helped him out of this quagmire. He told him directly that unless he wants his name on the failure of the American military aid deal, he must apologize ASAP. Liberman understood, eventually, and for the first time in his career, apologized to a foreign entity. He pinned some of the blame on the media, but finally eked out an apologetic statement: “The difference between the positions of Israel and the US does not in any way diminish our deep appreciation of the United States and the president of the United States for their enormous contribution to Israel’s national security, and the enormous importance we attach to the strong alliance between the two nations,” the apology opened, and then delivered the needed specifics: “The Friday statement was not intended to make a direct comparison, neither historically nor personally [with the Munich accords]. We are sorry if it was interpreted otherwise.”

And he’ll never do it again.

JNi.Media

Complying with Ottoman Law, IDF Panel Revokes Jewish Community’s Land Ownership

Monday, August 8th, 2016

The IDF Appeals Committee in Judea and Samaria has ruled recently that the 2013 declaration of an area of some 55 acres in the vicinity of Kokhav Ya’akov, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, as state land is null and void, because the process of making the acquisition was improper, Ha’aretz reported Monday. The military panel was also critical of the lack of transparency in making the declaration public — meaning that it was being kept out of PA Arabs’ earshot.

The panel’s ruling on an appeal by NGO Yesh Din on behalf of alleged Arab land owners, is more a judicial recommendation to the IDF in the area than a compelling decision, but should the declaration of state land be appealed in the Israeli Supreme court — as it surely will be — the panel’s decision would influence the justices’ ruling.

The grounds for dismissing the government acquisition of the land has to do with its failure to adequately comply with Ottoman Law — a remnant of the Turkish government’s rule over these lands before 1918, which continues to be the law of the land; and will continue to be so as long as Israel fails to impose Israeli law on Area C, where Jews live.

Ottoman law says that a man can establish claim to his land if he can show that he has been tilling it for the previous ten years. The state tried to comply with the law by providing aerial photographs of the area from 1969, showing clearly that the land was not being cultivated.

However, the dissemination of lands to local Arabs by King Hussein, who ruled the area from 1949 to 1967, took place in 1961. So the panel ruled that the aerial photos proving the land was not being cultivated had to be from before 1961, and, according to the state, such photographs could not be found.

There are photographs from 1944 showing that some of the land was being tilled then.

The judges wrote that they were not convinced the state had made the full effort to discover those 1956 aerial photographs, and that without them the panel must rule that the situation back in 1944 continued uninterrupted through 1961. Of course, the decision to require a photograph from before 1961 assumes that when King Hussein handed over lands to the heads of local Arab clans (whom he viewed as a source of potential rebellion) — he had the right to give those lands away. But Hussein was never recognized universally as the sovereign of the “West Bank,” which was considered an occupied territory, along the 1949 armistice border with Israel.

Local residents of Kokhav Ya’akov say they have also purchased the land, but regardless of the ownership papers they would present to the high court, organizations like Yesh Din will rustle up a group of Arab claimants to the land, with papers freshly minted by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah showing the land belongs to them.

According to NGO Monitor, Yesh Din operates on an annual budget of $1.58 million, provided by the EU, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norwegian Refugee Council, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, HEKS (Switzerland), Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Oxfam-Novib (Netherlands).

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/complying-with-ottoman-law-idf-panel-revokes-jewish-communitys-land-ownership/2016/08/08/

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