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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Richard Lakin and the Baha Alyan Leadership Course

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Judean Rose}

Richard Lakin was murdered in October. By June he was no longer in the news. That’s when I went to a wonderful conference put together by Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center.

The conference was two days of pure pleasure. It was all about politics, all about Israel, the country I love with all my heart, and how the battle for her honor is being fought in the court of public opinion as well as in the real courts, namely the International Criminal Court (ICC).

You go to something like this and you hear a lot of famous people speak. Members of Knesset like Yair Lapid, Tsipi Livni, and Naftali Bennett. You hear people like Ambassador John Bolton. And you may even get a photo of someone you thought you’d never have the privilege to see.

But you come with preconceptions. You think you know the good guys from the bad guys, whom to cheer and whom to boo. You think you know right from left.

And sometimes you’re right.

When Tsipi Livni spoke, for instance, I stayed, thinking maybe I should at least hear her out, while others left before she could begin. And I had to leave in the middle of her speech in protest of the way she demonized Elor Azaria, the soldier who, like Israel, is being tried in the court of public opinion as well as before a jury of his peers (or what passes for that in Israel)* for shooting a terrorist who was already down. That boy could be my son. Anyone’s son. And I was disgusted at the suggestion that we should not support him.

Just a boy. Put in an impossible situation. A stressful situation.

It made me want to cry, just thinking about it. Still does.

And then at some point, Richard Lakin’s son spoke. Micah Lakin Avni. I steeled myself to listen to him with kindness. His father had been murdered not that long ago, the year of mourning, not yet complete.

Why did I need to steel myself? Not because it would be difficult to hear his pain, it would be of course, but I steeled myself only because I knew the family, including Richard (HY”D), himself lately murdered by Arab terrorists, leaned to the left politically.

It is very difficult to listen quietly when people talk about giving up Jewish land for peace, when one doesn’t believe this a sound or advisable idea—when one does not believe this will bring the desired result. It is very difficult to listen quietly when left-leaning people pay homage to the idea of symmetry and balance when all I see is an Arab war against the Jews. But I had no intention of not giving Micah Lakin Avni my fullest attention. He deserved to be heard, as the son of a terror victim, as a fellow Jew, as someone who had suffered pain no one should be made to suffer.

And what I found was that he was quite reasonable, Micah Lakin Avni. He was straight-talking. From start to finish. He said not one thing with which I disagreed politically or on any other level. He spoke about the disbelieving Arab nurse in ICU who cared for his father as he lingered in a coma, on the edge of death. Only one week before, her two sons had been in Richard Lakin’s home. He was their teacher, their tutor. His home had always open to them. He was kindness itself. It was impossible for her to believe that something like this could happen to him.

It was so sad.

American-Israeli peace-activist,  Richard Lakin, (HY"D)murdered by Jerusalem Arab terrorists

American-Israeli peace-activist, Richard Lakin, (HY”D)murdered by Jerusalem Arab terrorists

But the main thrust of what Micah Lakin Avni spoke about was how social media was being used to facilitate and feed the terror pipeline. He spoke of how it felt when only a few days after his father’s murder, the Hamas Student Union aired a video reenactment of the murder on Facebook and Twitter. When Micah could barely deal with the torrent of emotions, he was confronted with something so cruel and ugly.

He called it “open-source Jihad”  and talked about how it grows itself. And he talked about how he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times called The Facebook Intifada. Precisely because he was left-leaning, and precisely because of what he had personally suffered, moreover, his op-ed went viral.

And that’s important.

It’s important any time we can get the mainstream media to hear the truth about terror, the truth about Israel and what is happening here. It is important when the mainstream media allows our voices to be heard. For soldiering on and making his voice heard, Micah Lakin Avni is only to be praised.

But even more so for what he then said at the conference I attended. He dared to say that open-source Jihad is the new Nazism. And he said that in order to deal with this new Nazism, we will have to revisit our rights. Things like freedom of speech and the presumption of innocence which is at the very core of our society.

 

FB Death-to-Israel

Lakin Avni did not suggest we discard this presumption, only revisit and perhaps reconsider or revise. Because when you have terrorists airing reenactments of murder on social media, you have to think hard about the effect of this on society and whether the freedom to create and share a clip like this, that incites to murder, is more valuable than peace.

(Think of Hitler’s speeches—what if they had been suppressed because of the danger? This was a danger we now know was too high a price to pay for freedom of speech.)

The frustrating thing here, for Lakin Avni, and for all of us, is that Facebook has no face. There is no address for these concerns, no address to deal with incitement on social media, this open-source Jihad. Facebook couches its “Community Standards” in words that preclude any complaint. Facebook decries “acts of violence” and not incitement to terror. The monolith says its concern must be for the safety of the people on Facebook (and not people on buses, people like Richard Lakin, for instance). There is no face to sue.

FB Community-Standards

Meanwhile, said Lakin Avni, incitement to terror is rampant on Arabic and Muslim pages on Facebook and Facebook simply closes its eyes to the phenomenon. Lakin Avni dares them to refute this fact: that incitement is rampant on Arabic and Muslim Facebook pages.

His dare goes unanswered. Will go unanswered. And the result of this silence is and will be bloodshed.

Well, I am now at over 1,000 words and have not yet gotten to the meat of my piece, the reason I am suddenly writing about a conference that took place over one month ago. It is this: six months ago, the World Organization of the Scout Movement accepted as a full member, the Palestinian Scout Association. And now, this very same Palestinian Scout Association is running a “leadership training course” called the Martyr – Leader Baha Alyan Course.

This “leadership course” which incites children to die in the act of killing Jewish Israelis is named after the murderer of peace activist Richard Lakin: Baha Alyan.

Now my son is a boy scout. He is big into Scouts. He eats, sleeps, and dreams Scouts. He tries hard to be a leader and a good example to the boys he has charge of, as a patrol leader. It is difficult to imagine the disparity between my son’s experience of being a scout, which means things like being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, and what these Arab children are being taught in the name of “leadership.” Namely: to go out and kill the Jews.

It’s open-source Jihad writ large. It’s incitement to kill. It’s extreme xenophobia, and yes. It’s CHILD ABUSE.

The story of these boy scouts for Jihad was broken by Palestinian Media Watch with a quote from the official Palestinian Authority daily, Al-Jadida:

“Yesterday the practical studies for the [scout] deputy unit leaders (preparation for the wood badge) – Martyr (Shahid) Leader Baha Alyan Course began at the Shabab Al-Eizariya Club in the Jerusalem district (Note: Alyan was terrorist who murdered 3, Ed.). [The course] was organized by the Committee for Training and Developing Leadership of the Palestinian Scout Association, in cooperation with the scout commission in the Jerusalem district.

The training staff is composed of several members of the Committee for Training and Developing Leadership: Preparatory studies [course] leader and Jerusalem commissioner Sa’id Atoun, [scout] leader Muhammad Al-Dahdar, and [scout] leader Mufid Al-Barq.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 27, 2016]

In response, PMW’s Itamar Marcus wrote to the World Organization of the Scout Movement:

From: Palestinian Media Watch <pmw@palwatch.org>

To: worldbureau@scout.org

Date: Aug. 28, 2016

Subject: Palestinian Scout Association terror promotion

Dear World Organization of the Scout Movement,
We would like to bring to your attention that the Palestinian Scout Association (PSA), which six months ago was accepted as a full member in the World Organization of the Scout Movement, is training its scout leaders to see a cold-blooded terrorist murderer as their role model. The PSA leadership training course that started last week is named the “Martyr – Leader Baha Alyan Course,” after terrorist Alyan, who boarded a bus in Jerusalem last October and murdered three Israeli passengers on the bus: Alon Govberg (51), Haviv Haim (78) and Richard Lakin (76).

We ask that you take steps to guarantee that the distinguished World Organization of the Scout Movement will have no part in training future scout leaders to see terrorist murderers as role models, by immediately canceling the PSA’s membership. There is no greater impediment to peace than bringing up children to see murderers of innocent civilians as heroic role models. Should you allow the Palestinian Scout Association to keep its membership in the World Organization of the Scout Movement at the same time as they are presenting a murderer as a role model for future scout leaders, then your organization is effectively a co-sponsor of this terror promoting course.

We thank you and are waiting to hear what actions you have taken to distance yourselves from the terror-promoting Palestinian Scout Association.

Sincerely,

Itamar Marcus,

Director Palestinian Media Watch

I am absolutely biting my nails to hear what, if any answer, Marcus will receive.

Will the World Organization of the Scout Movement, like Facebook and Twitter before it, turn a blind eye to open-source Jihad, to the incitement of children to kill my people, as long as someone calls it “leadership training?”

Will the Scouts movement refuse to disassociate from these evil people with their extreme hatred and xenophobia?

Will Scouts become a place where I cannot in good conscience allow my son to continue to serve in a leadership role?

Will Scouts become a place where “terror” is called “leadership,” and “Jew-killing,” “resistance?”

And what will be the response of the Israeli branch of the Scout movement??

I probably need to have a talk with my son.

It is a talk I am dreading.

*UPDATE: I knew the military court was likely different than the American court system, but didn’t quite know how. Reader Shabtai wrote and explained as follows: “There is no jury at all. If there were,  [Elor Azaria] would be tried in front of 6 of his peers – other לוחמים [fighters]. Instead, he is tried in front of a panel of military judges – who depend, in a large measure on the Ramat Kal [Chief of Staff], who has already condemned Azaria, for their next promotion. Ever hear the term ‘show trial’? I think that this is a critical point, and not enough folks in blogosphere (as far as I can see) are making it.”

Varda Meyers Epstein

Yad Vashem Leadership Mission Arrives in Israel

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

More than 50 influential friends and advocates of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, participating in a Leadership Mission arrived in Israel today. The Mission brings together Yad Vashem’s steadfast supporters from around the world to explore prewar Jewish life in Europe, to reflect on the past, present and future, and to connect to Yad Vashem as well as to one another. Among some of the notable members of the Mission are Chairman of the American Society for Yad Vashem Lenny Wilf, world-renowned hotelier Mark Moskowitz, entrepreneur and philanthropist Yossie Hollander, Holocaust survivor Roberto Kucinski, and Barry Levine. In Poland, the Mission visited Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Wroclaw and Wolfsberg forced labor camps before spending a meaningful Shabbat in Krakow, where they were joined by Yad Vashem Council Chairman Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. 

 The Israel portion of the Mission begins with an private audience with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin. Participants will also meet with Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, Director General Dorit Novak, and many of Yad Vashem’s Senior Staff. They will tour the campus on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, and be briefed about Yad Vashem’s far-reaching activities in the fields of Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education.   

David Israel

Incoming Defense Minister Rattles Israeli Political Establishment

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

by Michael Bachner

The news that MK Avigdor Liberman, chairman of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteynu party, will be Israel’s next defense minister has rocked the political establishment on the right and left.

Liberman, a tough-talking former ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has sought the Defense Ministry portfolio for years – and appears set to receive it after a deal struck with Netanyahu on Wednesday.

Liberman’s rise followed a tumultuous day of negotiations and backroom deals in which both Liberman and MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of the historically left-wing Labor party, vied for the job of defense minister and the chance to enter Netanyahu’s government.

“I regret the prime minister’s decision. I did not imagine that he would make such a paradoxical and dangerous move,” said MK Benny Begin, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday morning. “The prime minister has been very proud of what he called ‘a reasonable, balanced and responsible’ defense policy, while Liberman’s statements give an opposite impression.”

Netanyahu received harsh criticism from opposition parties as well, including Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, who blasted Netanyahu for “bartering the most sensitive and important positions as if nothing mattered” in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Liberman was an ally of Netanyahu – the two ran together in a united party during the 2013 election after which Liberman became foreign minister – until they had a public falling out two years ago. The Yisrael Beiteynu party remained in the opposition after last year’s election, and as recently as March Liberman castigated Netanyahu as a “liar, cheat, and con man.”

Liberman has been a frequent advocate for a harsher military response toward Palestinian Authority terrorism, notably against the Hamas terror group that runs Gaza.

“The elimination of Hamas is the primary mission of the Israeli government and as defense minister I will carry it out,” Liberman said before last year’s elections. “We will not reach agreements and understandings with them. The only agreement that can be reached with Hamas is when they are buried in the ground,” he said, adding that such an Israeli policy cannot be implemented when the government is comprised of “a coalition of nerds.”

Meanwhile, reports have emerged that Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East and a former British prime minister, colluded with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to push Herzog into the government – a move reportedly designed to facilitate a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority. According to the report in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Blair even met with Herzog’s political partner, MK Tzipi Livni, in her Tel Aviv home this week, despite the fact that she is sitting shiva – the Jewish mourning ritual – for her brother.

Liberman is set to replace current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, a senior Likud member who has recently clashed with Netanyahu over a series of issues related to the IDF’s independence from the political establishment.

Ya’alon, apparently alluding to the news of his ouster, said on Thursday that Israel is facing a crisis of leadership. “There is a loss of our moral compass on basic issues,” Ya’alon said. “If I had to give a golden tip, it would be to navigate with a compass rather than a weather vane. Navigation with a compass is tried and true, and it’s also a question of leadership.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Prescriptions For Conflict Resolution

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

One of the hardest tasks of a leader – from prime ministers to parents – is conflict resolution. Yet it is also the most vital. Where there is leadership, there is long-term cohesiveness within the group, whatever the short-term problems. Where there is a lack of leadership – where leaders lack authority, grace, generosity of spirit and the ability to respect positions other than their own – there is divisiveness, rancor, backbiting, resentment, internal politics and a lack of trust. Leaders are people who put the interests of the group above those of any subsection of the group. They care for, and inspire others to care for, the common good.

That is why an episode in this week’s parshah is of the highest consequence. It arose like this: The Israelites were on the last stage of their journey to the Promised Land. They were now situated on the east bank of the Jordan, within sight of their destination. Two of the tribes, Reuben and Gad, who had large herds and flocks of cattle, felt that the land they were currently on was ideal for their purposes. It was good grazing country. So they approached Moses and asked for permission to stay there rather than take up their share in the Land of Israel. They said: “If we have found favor in your eyes, let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan” (Numbers 32: 5).

Moses was instantly alert to the danger. The two tribes were putting their own interests above those of the nation as a whole. They would be seen as abandoning the nation at the very time they were needed most. There was a war – in fact a series of wars – to be fought if the Israelites were to inherit the Promised Land. As Moses said to the tribes: “Should your fellow Israelites go to war while you sit here? Why do you discourage the Israelites from crossing over into the land the Lord has given them?” (Numbers 32:6-7).

The proposal was potentially disastrous. Moses reminded the men of Reuben and Gad what had happened in the incident of the spies. The spies demoralized the people, ten of them saying that they could not conquer the land. The inhabitants were too strong. The cities were impregnable. The result of that one moment was to condemn an entire generation to die in the wilderness and to delay the eventual conquest by forty years. “And here you are, a brood of sinners, standing in the place of your fathers and making the Lord even more angry with Israel. If you turn away from following Him, He will again leave all the people in the wilderness, and you will be the cause of their destruction” (Numbers 32:14-15). Moses was blunt, honest and confrontational.

What then followed is a role model in negotiation and conflict resolution. The Reubenites and Gadites recognized the claims of the people as a whole and the justice of Moses’s concerns. They propose this compromise: Let us make provisions for our cattle and our families, and the men will then accompany the other tribes across the Jordan. They will fight alongside them. They will even go ahead of them. They will not return to their cattle and families until all the battles have been fought, the land has been conquered, and the other tribes have received their inheritance.

Essentially they invoke what would later become a principle of Jewish law: zeh neheneh v’zeh lo chaser – an act is permissible if one side gains and the other side does not lose. We will gain, say the two tribes, by having land good for our cattle, but the nation as a whole will not lose because we will be in the army, we will be on the front line, and we will stay there until the war has been won.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Sprints And Marathons

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

It was a unique, unrepeatable moment of leadership at its highest height. For forty days Moses had been communing with God, receiving from Him the law written on tablets of stone. Then God informed him that the people had just made a golden calf. He was about to destroy them. It was the worst crisis of the wilderness years, and it called for every one of Moses’s gifts as a leader.

First, he prayed to God not to destroy the people. God agreed. Then he went down the mountain and saw the people cavorting around the calf. Immediately, he smashed the tablets. He burned the calf, mixed its ashes with water and made the people drink. Then he called for people to join him. The Levites heeded the call and carried out a bloody punishment in which three thousand people died. Then Moses went back up the mountain and prayed for forty days and nights. Then for a further forty days he stayed with God while a new set of tablets was engraved. Finally he came down the mountain on 10 Tishrei carrying the new tablets with him as a visible sign that God’s covenant with Israel remained.

This was an extraordinary show of leadership, at times bold and decisive, at others slow and persistent. Moses had to contend with both sides, inducing the Israelites to do teshuvah and God to exercise forgiveness. At that moment he was the greatest ever embodiment of the name Israel, meaning one who wrestles with God and with people – and prevails.

The good news is that there once was a Moses. Because of him, the people survived. The bad news: what happens when there is no Moses? The Torah itself says, “No other prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10). That is the problem faced by every nation, corporation, community and family. What do you do in the absence of heroic leadership? It is easy to say, “Think what Moses would have done.” But Moses did what he did because he was what he was. We are not Moses. That is why every human group that was once touched by greatness faces a problem of continuity. How does it avoid a slow decline?

The answer is given in this week’s parshah. The day Moses descended the mountain with the second tablets was to be immortalized by turning its anniversary into a holy day, Yom Kippur. On it, the drama of teshuvah and kapparah, repentance and atonement, was to be repeated annually. This time, though, the key figure would not be Moses but Aaron, not the prophet but the high priest.

That is how you perpetuate a transformative event: by turning it into a ritual. Max Weber called this the routinization of charisma. A once-and-never-again moment becomes a once-and-ever-again ceremony. As James MacGregor Burns puts it in his classic work, Leadership: “The most lasting tangible act of leadership is the creation of an institution – a nation, a social movement, a political party, a bureaucracy – that continues to exert moral leadership and foster needed social change long after the creative leaders are gone.”

There is a remarkable midrash in which various sages put forward their idea of klal gadol ba’Torah, the great principle of the Torah. Ben Azzai says it is the verse, “This is the book of the chronicles of man: On the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God” (Genesis 5:1). Ben Zoma says that there is a more embracing principle, “Listen, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Ben Nannas says there is a yet more embracing principle: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Ben Pazzi says we find a more embracing principle still: “The first sheep shall be offered in the morning, and the second sheep in the afternoon” (Exodus 29:39) – or, as we might say today, Shacharit, Minchah and Ma’ariv. In a word: “routine.” The passage concludes: The law follows Ben Pazzi.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

The Two-State Solution Is Obsolete

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The Americans, the Europeans and the international community in general are constantly demanding the implementation of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. For example, when French President Francois Hollande spoke at the Knesset recently, he stated, “We need a compromise through a two-state solution.” He emphasized that Jerusalem should be a shared capital city of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples and stressed that settlement construction should come to an end. Statements by US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron are very similar to Hollande’s.

However, any political analysis of the current situation on the ground in the Holy Land would suggest that such models are an obsolete way of thinking. For starters, the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority are not controlled by the same political entity. The Gaza Strip is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization, who to date refuses to reconcile with the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority. By refusing to sign a reconciliation agreement with Fatah, Hamas has essentially ensured that there can be no united Palestinian leadership. If there is no united Palestinian leadership, there can’t be a unified Palestinian state.

History is full of examples of entities that broke up because they were separated by geographic distance and cultural differences. Bangladesh used to be East Pakistan. However, the culture in Bangladesh is very different from the Pakistani mentality. In Pakistan, they primarily speak Urdu, while the language in Bangladesh is Bangla. The Bangladeshi people felt oppressed by Pakistan. Some Bangladeshis accuse them of committing genocide against them. Furthermore, Pakistan was geographically disconnected from them and so they decided to break off to become a separate country.

The situation is quite similar in regards to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip. Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip feel oppressed by Hamas and Hamas supporters within the Palestinian Authority view the Fatah leadership with disdain. Furthermore, the populations in Gaza and Judea and Samaria are very different from each other culturally speaking. The Arabs living in Judea and Samaria are more liberal and cosmopolitan than the ones living in the Gaza Strip. To add insult to injury, the two territories are geographically disconnected from each other and the two populations rarely intermarry with each other.

The Fatah-Hamas divide in itself should have killed the idea of a two-state for two peoples’ paradigm. This should be the case especially given the fact that Hamas refuses to recognize the existence of the Jewish state as well and states specifically in their charter that they are opposed to all peace negotiations. They support waging a violent jihad until Israel ceases to exist. For them, it is war until either Israel vanishes or they cease to exist.

Even if Fatah recognizes Israel’s right to exist, in the absence of a military defeat of Hamas, two-states for two peoples living in peace is a fairy tale for children. Yet interestingly enough, even Fatah remains committed to destroying Israel in phases, refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and views the two-states for two-people’s paradigm merely as the first phase towards liberating all of Palestine. Given this reality, it is time for the international community to consider other models for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the absence of paradigms that have been proven to be unworkable.

Rachel Avraham

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-unpredicted-consequences-of-the-german-elections/2013/10/01/

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