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March 26, 2015 / 6 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Berlin Won’t Name German Companies Involved in Syria’s C-Weapons Program

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Berlin steadfastly refuses to reveal the names of German companies who helped Syria develop its chemical weapons program according to a new report published this week by Der Spiegel. The information was made available in documents that were declassified after a 30 year embargo.

The list of firms involved in the program was handed over to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government coalition 16 months ago by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its “extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.” Last year the OPCW organized and helped destroy Syria’s chemical weapons – those that were uncovered, that is – together with experts from the United Nations.

But 16 months later, Merkel has done nothing with the list, saying that publicizing the names would “significantly impair foreign policy interests and thus the welfare of the Federal Republic of Germany.”

The Merkel government added that doing so would be similar to releasing “trade secrets” and therefore constitute a violation of Germany’s constitution.

According to a lengthy report in Der Spiegel, however, the government did not need the OPCW list to know that German firms were involved in the Syrian chemical weapons program.

Apparently the government-funded Institute for Contemporary History published an inventory dating back to 1984 including a government document with names of companies suspected of supplying the Syrian chemical weapons program.

The release may have been accidental; it was a memo regarding the Dec. 6, 1984 visit to a deupty section head in the German Foreign Ministry by then-Israeli Ambassador to Germany Yitzhak Ben-Ari.

The Israeli official brought with him “intelligence service findings” which showed that since the mid-1970s scientists had been working on producing chemical weapons for Syria, “disguised as agricultural and medical research.”

Included were the glass producer Schott, laboratory equipment producer Kolb, technology company Heraeus, the former Hoechst subsidiary Riedel-de-Haen, pharmaceutical company Merck and the company Gerrit van Delden.

The top secret program was being carried out in the chemistry department at the UNESCO-funded Centre d’Etudes et des Recherches Scientifiques in Damascus. A pilot facility was already built. Contracts were already signed for three production lines and Ben-Ari believed that within the year, Syria would have the capacity to produce 700 kilograms (1,543 pounds) of sarin – enough to kill several million people.

On December 12, 1984, a representative of the U.S. State Department told the German Embassy in Washington that Karl Kolb GmbH & Co. KG, from the town of Dreiech in Hesse, had delivered “chemical research and production equipment for the manufacture of large quantities of nerve gas” to Iraq.

At that time, Dictator Saddam Hussein was busy building “the most modern chemical weapons factory of its time,” disguised as a pesticide factory, according to international experts who testified in 2004, Der Spiegel reports. Though only Kolb is mentioned in the files, it turns out that a related firm, Pilot Plant GmbH, delivered four facilities at a total cost of 7.5 million Deutsche marks.

American officials were trying to pressure then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher to force Kolb to withdraw its technicians and “via pressure on the company prevent Iraq from producing C-weapons.”

Germany’s long-standing love affair with chemical weapons was notorious: the Nazis had used hydrocyanic acid, manufactured by German chemical companies, to murder inmates in the death camps during the Holocaust. Millions died, including six million Jews.

As it turns out, Kohl and Genscher did indeed promise to curb the companies and issued orders to that effect. Foreign Ministry internal memos clearly showed the “minister places high value on a complete investigation” and demanded “assurances that nothing more will be delivered” to Samarra.

Israel Hits Back at ICC

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has taken the first steps in hitting back at the ICC for its eagerness to try and prosecute Israel for fictitious war crimes.

Liberman said on Israel radio that Israel will ask Israel’s friends in Canada, Australia and Germany to stop funding the ICC. Israel and the US are not members of the ICC.

Japan’s Prime Minister is currently in Israel and Israel will also ask Japan to stop contributing to the ICC.

In the international community there is concern that the Palestinian Authority’s actions may destroy whatever credibility the ICC may have had. They’re right to be worried.

Who Gave $1 Million for Museum That May Deal with Nazi-Looted Art?

Friday, November 28th, 2014

An anonymous donor has given more than $1 million to help a Swiss museum take care of a bequest of hundreds of artworks, which may include Nazi-looted art.

The donation will help the Kunstmuseum Bern, or Bern Museum of Fine Arts, to house the collection of the late German art collector Cornelius Gurlitt of about 1,000 artworks, the French news agency AFP reported Thursday. The donor asked to remain anonymous.

The museum on Monday formally agreed to accept the collection but said that it would work with German officials to ensure that all looted art in the collection is returned to its owners or their heirs. Gurlitt named the museum his sole heir before his death in May.

The collection reportedly is worth about $1.26 billion. The museum said it had no prior relationship with Gurlitt.

A German task force will continue to investigate the provenance of the artworks to determine which pieces were looted and to discover their rightful owners. Pieces for which no owners can be identified will be displayed in Germany in order to try to find the owners or heirs, according to the museum.

Some 1,400 works were confiscated from Gurlitt’s Munich home in 2012 in the course of an investigation for tax evasion. Other works were subsequently found in Gurlitt’s second home in Salzburg, Austria.

Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand, was an art dealer on assignment to the Nazis. When Hildebrand Gurlitt died in 1956, his son inherited the collection, which includes works by Picasso, Durer, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Beckmann and Matisse.

In April, Gurlitt signed an agreement with the state of Bavaria and the German federal government in which the provenance of all works would be researched, paving the way for the return of the paintings to the heirs of the rightful owners.

The work of the task force in searching for possible rightful owners continued after Gurlitt’s death.

The museum is set to publish this week a list of all the artworks in the collection, the first time such a comprehensive list will be available, according to AFP.

Report: German Ambassador to Holland to Visit Graves of SS Soldiers

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Germany’s ambassador to the Netherlands is slated to attend a commemoration at a cemetery where many SS soldiers are buried, according to a report Wednesday by the Dutch De Telegraaf daily that the envoy is aware that it contains the remains of SS soldiers.

Amb. Franz Josef Kremp is supposed to attend the commemoration on Nov. 16 at the Ysselsteyn cemetery near Eindhoven in the eastern Netherlands, a cemetery for victims of World War II. He is,

Herman Loonstein, founder of the Federative Jewish Netherlands group and a Jewish activist against commemoration in the Netherlands of Nazis and soldiers who fought for Germany, told the daily: “I think this is an affront. Mr. Kremp should not be presenting SS soldiers as victims. Jews were the victims.”

De Telegraaf reported that it had obtained a letter written by Kremp about the Ysselsteyn cemetery — where neo-Nazis have gathered in the past to honor Nazi soldiers buried there — in which he stated: “Among the dead resting here are German and Dutch war casualties, including Waffen SS.” The report did not say to whom the letter was addressed and in what context.

The Waffen SS was an elite Nazi unit whose men are responsible for the murder of countless Jews during the Holocaust.

Holland, which saw heavy battles between soldiers fighting for Nazi Germany and Allied forces, has many cemeteries where combatants from both camps are buried.

In recent years, Jewish groups like Loonstein’s have protested an emerging trend, in which commemorations are extended not only to the Allied forces’ casualties and Holocaust victims, but also to the German soldiers. Organizers of such events have justified them as promoting reconciliation.

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, the Jewish community’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, has criticized this practice, warning it blurs the line between victim and perpetrator.

Ebola Virus Spreads to Germany

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

The lethal Ebola virus is making its way across the European continent and has apparently reached Germany.

A medical center in Leipzig reported Tuesday that a 56-year-old member of a United Nations team admitted to the facility has died.

St. Georg Hospital said the patient, whose name was not released, became infected with Ebola in Liberia.

The victim died overnight despite “intensive medical procedures” according to the hospital spokesperson.

No further details were released.

Connecting The Dots Between Euro Anti-Zionism And Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel took a strong stand against the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe when she appeared at a Berlin rally against Jew hatred. Lamenting the attacks on Jews throughout Europe but especially in the country that had supposedly done the most to learn the lessons of the Holocaust, she vowed that her government would do everything in its power to fight against the revival of Jew hatred.

The question is not so much her undoubted commitment to this task but whether other European leaders and opinion leaders will draw the proper conclusions from the connection between the anti-Israel invective they have encouraged and the rising tide of anti-Semitism.

Speaking at the rally Merkel said the following:

It is a monstrous scandal that people in Germany today are being abused if they are somehow recognizable as Jews or if they stand up for the state of Israel. I will not accept that and we will not accept that.… It’s our national and civic duty to fight anti-Semitism…. Anyone who hits someone wearing a skullcap is hitting us all. Anyone who damages a Jewish gravestone is disgracing our culture. Anyone who attacks a synagogue is attacking the foundations of our free society.

Merkel deserves credit for putting herself and her government on the line on this issue at a time when this issue is becoming more of a concern. The atmosphere of hate she references is the result of a combination of factors in which the influence of immigrants from the Arab and Islamic worlds has combined with traditional Jew hatred as well as the willingness of many European academic and political elites to countenance verbal assaults on Jews and Israel in a way that would have been inconceivable in the first decades after the Holocaust.

Over the course of the past several years as anti-Semitism has moved from the margins of European society back to its mainstream, Israel has become the focus of anti-Semites. Seeking to veil their hate with the guise of legitimate political commentary, they have sought to draw a distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, a difference that even many Jews continue to accept.

But Merkel’s pointed remark including supporters for Israel in her recitation of those under threat should alert her listeners to the fact that the line between hatred of Israel and that for Jews in general has long since been erased.

The idea that anti-Zionism is legitimate in a way that anti-Semitism is not has long been more a matter of nuance and semantics than reality. Those who would deny to Jews the same rights – the right to a state in their ancient homeland and the right of self-defense – they deny to virtually no other people on the planet is, by definition, an act of bias, and acts of bias against Jews are anti-Semitism, pure and simple.

While it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the policies of any government of Israel – Israelis do it every day – those who are dedicated to the destruction of Israel and opposed to any means of self-defense on its part, as opposed to just wishing to change its borders or government, are not engaging in legitimate political argument. They are, whether they initially intend it or not, actively supporting those who wish to commit ethnic cleansing and/or genocide against the six million Jews of Israel.

What we have witnessed this year is that anger over Israel’s refusal to allow itself to be attacked with impunity by Islamist terrorists is blurring any distinctions between socially unacceptable anti-Semitism and anger at Israel that has been deemed mere politics rather than hate speech.

German Man on Trial for ISIS Membership Played On Jewish Soccer Team

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

A German man who went on trial in Frankfurt, Germany Monday for being a member of the extremist ISIS group once played for a Jewish soccer club.

Kreshnik Berisha, 20, is alleged to have traveled to Syria where he fought with the group for five months before he returned to Germany, according to the Associated Press.

Berisha, 20, reportedly comes from a Muslim family from Kosovo. He was arrested in Germany in December on charges of membership in a foreign terrorist organization and is believed to be one of about 400 German citizens who have joined jihadist groups fighting in Syria since the beginning of the more than three-year-long civil war.

State prosecutors said he underwent firearms training in Syria and reportedly worked as a medic for ISIS.

“On top of this, he took part in combat missions that occasionally lasted several days,” the charge sheet read.

He has since “turned his back” on ISIS, defense lawyer Mutlu Günal told the British newspaper The Guardian. The judge reportedly is working with prosecutors on a plea deal in exchange for information about the extremist group.

Berisha played on the under-17 youth team of Makkabi Frankfurt, a prominent Jewish soccer club, as recently as 2011.

Membership in the team is not restricted to Jews and is described as diverse. Israeli teams also are also careful not to discriminate with regard to race, religion or color.

All that matters is to win and be proud to say that the team is from Israel, even if not one player is Israeli and not one is even Jewish.

When you hear the lefties talks about a “Jewish democratic state of Israel,” the “Jewish” is in name only.

JTA contributed to this report.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/german-man-on-trial-for-isis-membership-played-on-jewish-soccer-team/2014/09/16/

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