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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

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

Raoul Wallenberg’s Fate Revealed in Diary of Former KGB Chief

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

For the first time ever, historians finally know, without doubt, what happened to the Swedish diplomat who saved so many thousands of Jewish lives from the Nazi hordes in Hungary during World War II.

In the 632-page tome, “Notes From a Suitcase: Secret Diaries of the First K.G.B. Chairman, Found Over 25 Years After His Death,” one finds the memoirs of one of the most important men in Soviet history, and the answer to one of the most painful questions of the last century.

“I have no doubts that Wallenberg was liquidated in 1947,” wrote state security chief Ivan A. Serov, head of the KGB from 1954 to 1958, in a memoir not only rare but in fact probably entirely forbidden to write.

Wallenberg disappeared in Budapest in 1945, and although there have been countless searches for clues to his fate, none have turned up the slightest breath of evidence as to what happened to him.

But his fate is found in this text, because the grandaughter of Ivan A. Serov, 57-year-old retired ballerina Vera Serova was wise enough, and kind enough, not to throw away the papers discovered by workers in suitcases as they renovated a garage four years ago at a “dacha” left to her in northwestern Moscow by her VIP grandfather.

The soldiers of the Soviet Union were occupying Budapest at the time of Wallenberg’s disappearance, and it was known that as a Swedish diplomat, he had strong ties with the Americans and the highest echelons of the Third Reich. That made him suspect to the Russians.

Neither ever gave up a clue, however, until this summer when the diaries of the original head of the clandestine KGB, found tucked into the wall of a little vacation cottage in Russia, were published.

Although few indeed are memoirs written by Kremlin officials – for obvious reasons – this one, penned by Serov, contained a treasure.

The multiple references to previously unknown documents on Wallenberg definitively put to rest the endless questions about the fate of the heroic diplomat. The most important of all is the fact that Wallenberg, though dead at the time of the posthumous investigation, was ultimately found by the USSR not to have been a “spy” after all.

It was Serov who carried out that probe at the behest of Nikita S. Khrushchev, who requested the inquiry after Stalin, telling Serov to respond to Sweden and help in the purge of Molotov. Although he failed to uncover the full circumstances of Wallenberg’s death, he said, he found no evidence of espionage.

There is a mention of the cremation of Wallenberg’s remains. And there is a reference to something said by Serov’s predecessor, Viktor Abakunov, who was tried and executed in 1954, in the final Stalin purge. During the interrogation of the former head of state security, his torturers learned that it was Stalin and then-foreign minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov who had issued the order to “liquidate” Wallenberg.

Serov also said he had read a Wallenberg file — despite the fact the Soviet Security Service had for years denied that any such files existed. Hans Magnusson, a retired senior diplomat interviewed by the New York Times, directed the Swedish side of the Swedish-Russian Working Group and said there should have been a file created for every prisoner. But, he said, “The Russians said they did not find one.”

Vera Serova has one, however, in her grandfather’s memoirs. She has published them now to restore his reputation, she said.

Serov did many evil things in his life: he established the secret police that were used to terrorize the population in Poland and East Germany; he helped deport thousands of minorities considered a threat to Soviet rule in Russia; he wielded enormous power as head of state security.

Hana Levi Julian

German Culture Minister Promises Reform of Judenfrei Nazi Loot Commission

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

German Culture Minister Monika Grütters is planning to reform the Limbach Commission, established in 2003 to mediate ownership disputes of Nazi-looted art. Ronald Lauder, the founder of the Commission for Art Recovery and president of the World Jewish Congress, has stated that the commission has been “cold and distant” in its treatment of Jews trying to claim their art that was looted by the Nazis.

The cool approach to Jewish rights of ownership of Nazi-looted property could possibly be attributed to the utter absence of Jews from the Limbach Commission.

The non-binding Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, endorsed by 44 countries in 1998, recommend that governments establish independent commissions with “a balanced membership” to “assist in addressing ownership issues.” But according to The Art Newspaper, Germany’s interpretation of the phrase “balanced membership” has not included appointing a single Jewish panel member.

Grütters told the New York Times last March that the move was intentional, because, as everyone knows, a Jewish member “would be the only voice who would be prejudiced.” Her comment generated a torrent of accusations of anti-Semitism, and the culture minister promised Lauder to appoint a Jewish member. Eventually.

“Thirteen years after it was established it is time to think about the future development of the commission in the interest of improved implementation of the Washington Principles,” Minsiter Grütters said in a recent statement, and culture bureaucrats from the 16 German states and municipal associations are in the process of establishing a committee to recommend reforms, meaning to find a Jewish person they could trust with the process of examining the Nazi-looted art. According to a spokesman for Grütters, proposals should be coming in this year.

To illustrate just how (intentionally) frustrating the recovery process has been, according to the Center for Art Law in January a task force appointed by Grütters released the results of their two-year, $2 million investigation, which found the rightful owners of five of the 1,500 works in the Gurlitt collection. Grütters has admitted her own disappointment, but seems to be taking the slow and steady approach, to avoid “a second seizure” of the art — meaning that some lying Jewish family be improperly awarded one of the stolen masterpieces. Meanwhile, the entire collection continues to be exhibited in Germany this year.

In late February, also according to the Center for Art Law, Germany announced that it will pay for at least another year of research and hire additional staff to establish the provenance of works in the Gurlitt collection. Minister Grütters reaffirmed Germany’s pledge to return any looted art to its rightful owners or their descendants, and awarded the (ostensibly meticulous) research a budget of $6.5 million.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/german-culture-minister-promises-reform-of-judenfrei-nazi-loot-commission/2016/08/07/

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