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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Switzerland’

Swiss Banks’ Holocaust Fund Has Paid Out $1.24 Billion

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Holocaust survivors and victims’ heirs have received $1.24 billion from a Swiss fund set up in 1998 following a scandal over dormant accounts of Jews killed in World War II, according to the Swiss  Jewish weekly Tachles.

It wrote that the figure appeared in a report by New York judge Edward Korman, who oversees the management of the fund.

Korman’s report summed up operations since a landmark 1998 deal between the World Jewish Congress and Swiss banks. Under the accord, the banks paid a $1.25 billion settlement, which was transformed into U.S. government bonds.

Payouts were then overseen by Korman and the Swiss-based Claims Resolution Tribunal, which wrapped up its operations in 2012.

All told, 457,000 Holocaust survivors and heirs have therefore received money from the fund.

Among them were 199,000 people who were pressed into forced labor by Nazi Germany, and who received a share of $288 million.

The banks were accused of keeping money owned by Jews who had hidden funds in secret accounts in neutral Switzerland but then perished in the Holocaust, and of stonewalling heirs who tried to track down the money.

Within the fund, a total of $800 million was destined for account holders and their heirs.

Teva to Sell Generic Viagra in UK, and Move Patent Filing to Switzerland

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Teva, the world leader in generic medication will be soon be launching a generic version of Pfizer’s Viagra in the UK and Europe.

Pfizer’s Viagra patents expired this past week in the UK and parts of Europe, allowing other manufacturers to move in.

In the US, a court ruling has prevented Teva from introducing generic Viagra until at least 2020.

Teva also announced that it will stop filing its patents in Israel, and will now be filing them instead in Switzerland.

The reason for the move are Switzerland’s patent related tax laws, and subsequent tax breaks and benefits they will provide Teva.

Teva said that if Israel were to change its tax codes to make them more competitive with other countries, they’d be happy to move the IP registrations back to Israel, according to a report in Globes.

Switzerland And The Jews: A Realistic Assessment

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Starting next week, Professor Beres’s column will be on summer hiatus until September.

* * * * *

In June 1998, Prof. Beres, following publication of an op-ed article in The New York Times, was invited by then-Swiss Ambassador Thomas Borer to present personal testimony before the specially-constituted Swiss Commission on World War II in Bern, Switzerland.

Here is part of that testimony.

My parents arrived as Austrian Jewish refugees in Switzerland almost exactly sixty years ago, on August 1, 1938. The day of their own “liberation” coincided with an anniversary of Switzerland’s national day of independent statehood. It was also less than twelve hours after their wedding. Today my wife, Valerie, and I are in Switzerland on the date of our thirtieth wedding anniversary, a milestone that would never have been possible had it not been for the safe refuge that Sigismund and Margarete Beres found here, following their 1938 marriage in Vienna.

On August 1, 1938, my very young parents (my mother not yet eighteen years old) entered Switzerland as a just-married couple, without any money, without any status, without any friends, without any nationality, and without any idea of a future. Today, their son speaks to a distinguished group of Swiss officials, headed by Ambassador Thomas Borer, as a citizen of the United States of America, as a professor of international law with Ivy League university degrees, and as an honored guest of that very same country of Switzerland.

It is a moment that would have made my parents very proud; I am certainly sorry they didn’t live to see it.

My parents spent a year or two in a labor camp near Lugano – I never learned the exact amount of time, or the precise name of the camp, but after that internment they were able to move off to Zurich and live happily and quite comfortably. In Zurich they were befriended by several Swiss families, both Christians and Jews, who did a great deal to help them become self-sufficient. This kindness of strangers they never forgot.

I was born in Zürich on August 31, 1945, an event for which I am understandably grateful. Had my parents not been allowed to stay on in Switzerland immediately after their marriage I would not be in Bern today.

Had it not been for Switzerland, I would never have been born.

So my reason for being here today, for accepting Ambassador Borer’s thoughtful invitation, is simple enough. My personal debt to Switzerland is obviously very great. It could not possibly be greater. When I now look at my own child, my 24-year-old daughter, Lisa Alexandra, I acknowledge that my parents’ good fortune in this beautiful country sixty years ago made her life possible as well.

Had it not been for Switzerland, she would never have been born.

Yesterday we left our good Swiss friends in Oberlunkhofen, Canton Argau. Christel, the wife and mother, is the daughter of a Swiss Catholic couple that assisted and befriended my parents during the war. Christel was born two years after me, on August 31 – the same birthday as mine. Her son’s middle name is Alexander; my daughter’s middle name is Alexandra. We discovered this coincidence of middle names only a few days ago.

My parents, especially my father, always loved Switzerland. When I was a child I was raised in part with the stories of William Tell. When my father returned to Europe on vacation he went first always to Switzerland. When he returned to the U.S. he brought back a bag full of Swiss flags as souvenirs. This was not what one would expect from a refugee who had any sad or angry recollections of his war years in Switzerland.

When the article I had written The New York Times about my parents’ Swiss experience was reprinted recently in the NZZ (Neue Zuricher Zeitung), I received about a dozen letters from elderly Swiss people, none of them Jewish, who remembered my parents and simply wanted to tell me some nice things about them. Some telephoned me as well.

So it is not difficult to understand why I am here today. My wife, Valerie, also cares for this country, not exactly in the same way as I (her own family having much longer roots in the United States), but certainly as an American tourist who appreciates magnificent mountains, wonderful cities, and the company of good Swiss friends.

Israel Ranks 10th in Number of Millionaires per Capita

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Israel is the home to 84,000 millionaires, putting it in 10th place in the world’s ranking of the number of millionaires as a percentage of the number of households, according to The Boston Consulting Group, in its report “Maintaining Momentum in a Complex World: Global Wealth 2013.”

In percentage term, there is a millionaire in one of every 92 households

“Israel had about 84,000 millionaire households in 2012, and there are plenty of thriving businesses here to keep them afloat, from booming technology companies to exploiters of natural gas fields,” according to the report.

It noted that Israel is a large exporter of diamonds and agricultural products.

The Boston Consulting Group reported that global household wealth grew by 7.8% in 2012, to $135.5 trillion, double the 3.6% growth in 2011 in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Qatar topped the rankings with 50,000 millionaire households, 14.3% of all households, out of a population of 2 million. It was followed by Switzerland, Kuwait, Hong Kong, and Singapore

The United States, with 5.87 million millionaire households, has the largest number of such households, amounting to 4.9% of all households.

Geneva Assailant of Jew ‘Too Mentally Ill’ to Stand Trial

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

A man who stabbed an Orthodox Jew in Geneva was found unfit to stand trial in Switzerland because of his clinical paranoia and “irrational fear of an international conspiracy.”

A court in Geneva earlier this month found that the 22-year-old man, who was not named, was too “mentally ill” to stand trial for stabbing and seriously wounding a 32-year-old French Jew in 2011, the Tribune de Genève daily reported.

The attack occurred in the parking lot of Geneva’s Natural History Museum while the victim, a citizen of France from Aix-les-Bains, was putting a baby carriage in the trunk of his car. His attacker stabbed him four times in view of the victim’s family. The victim arrived in the hospital in critical condition and spent several weeks there recovering.

The defendant, who grew up in Britain, was arrested a year after the attack in the Netherlands and extradited to Switzerland at the end of what the CICAD, a Swiss watchdog on anti-Semitism, termed “a long investigation by the police.”

The court declared the attacker unfit to stand trial based on a psychiatric evaluation that said he was a “paranoid schizophrenic suffering from visual hallucinations as well as hallucinated voices and fears of an international conspiracy.” He will be locked up in an institution for mentally ill people who pose a serious risk to their environment, the paper said.

Johanne Gurfinkel, the secretary general of a CICAD, told JTA the defendant belonged to far-right circles. “The perpetrator of this act may have suffered from mental problems, but he clearly attacked his victim out of anti-Semitic hatred,” Gurfinkel said.

Mercer: For a Good Life, Try Vienna, Avoid Baghdad

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Vienna retains the top spot as the city with the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer 2012 Quality of Living Survey. Zurich, Switzerland, and Auckland, New Zealand, follow in second and third place, respectively, and Munich is in fourth place, followed by Vancouver, which ranked fifth. Düsseldorf dropped one spot to rank sixth followed by Frankfurt in seventh, Geneva in eighth, Copenhagen in ninth, and Bern, Switzerland, and Sydney, Australia, tied for tenth place.

Here’s another common denominator to all the cities above: these are all cities I won’t be caught dead living in. Two of my favorite cities barely made the cut: New York City came in 44th and Tel Aviv 99th. I didn’t see Jerusalem anywhere in the survey, although it could be tucked away in the full list, which you have to buy (not gonna’ happen).

New York came in 30th on the Infrastructure Ranking list (seriously? with the longest and most complex subway system in the world?) and Tel Aviv 58th – hey, ahead of 72nd spot Abu Dhabi!

In the Americas, Canadian cities still dominate the top of the index, with Vancouver (5) retaining the top regional spot, followed by Ottawa (14), Toronto (15) and Montreal (23). Calgary ranks 32nd on the overall quality of living ranking.

Honolulu (28) is the U.S. city with the highest quality of living, followed by San Francisco (29) and Boston (35). Chicago is at 42 and Washington, DC ranks 43rd.

In the Middle East and Africa, Dubai (73) and Abu Dhabi (78) in the United Arab Emirates are the region’s cities with the best quality of living. Port Louis in Mauritius (82), Cape Town (89) and Johannesburg (94) follow, and along with Victoria in the Seychelles (96) and Tel Aviv (99), are the region’s only other cities in the top 100.

The Middle East and Africa have 15 cities in the bottom 20, including Lagos, Nigeria (202); Bamako, Mali (209); Khartoum, Sudan (217); and N’Djamena, Chad (218). Baghdad, Iraq (221) is the lowest-ranking city both regionally and globally.

The Circumcision Debate in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Monday, July 30th, 2012

A German regional court held at the end of June that circumcision of males, practiced by Jews and Muslims, is a “bodily injury” of the child and punishable as a crime. German political leaders reacted against the opinion, and the probability that it would portray today’s Germany in a negative light. The court order will likely be nullified definitively by the German parliament and constitutional court, but anti-circumcision policies have spread to Switzerland and Austria as well.

A month later, on July 20, the German federal parliament, the Bundestag, passed a resolution calling for the protection of the rights of Jewish and Muslim parents to circumcise of their male offspring with medically-qualified personnel. A draft law guaranteeing these religious liberties has been proposed for introduction this autumn.

The action by German politicians was followed, however, by news that two medical institutions in Switzerland, the Children’s Hospital in Zurich and the St. Gallen teaching hospital, decided temporarly to suspend circumcision of infants unless medically necessary.

Then, on July 24, came an order by Markus Wallberg, governor of the western Austrian province of Vorarlberg, also prohibiting the circumcision of males for non-medical reasons in all public hospitals, pending clarification of the German situation.

The Cologne case originated in November 2010, when a four-year old Muslim boy was circumcised at a clinic in the city, on the request of his parents. After two days, because the child was bleeding, the parents took him to the emergency room at the University Hospital of Cologne.

The public prosecutor in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia filed a complaint against the doctor who performed the procedure. The lower, district court determined in June 2012 that the doctor was blameless, and the doctor was acquitted. The district court held that circumcision was a form of “bodily injury,” but was justified by the approval of the parents, the cultural prevalence of circumcision among Muslims, and evidence of medical advantages among circumcised males.

Medical researchers have affirmed that circumcised males are less susceptible to sexually-transmitted diseases and to penile cancer. Der Spiegel acknowledged that “It remains undisputed that circumcision leads to better hygiene and can also be helpful in preventing some forms of cancer,” but noted that while common in the U.S., Israel, Muslim countries, and elsewhere, male circumcision is less widespread in Europe. Currently, about 55 percent of newborns in the U.S. are circumcised. Only 11 percent of German males are circumcised.

The public prosecutor in North Rhine-Westphalia appealed and the case was moved up to a regional court. The regional court also rejected the charge against the doctor in the matter, ruling that the “grey area” of legal uncertainty about male circumcision left the practitioner innocent. The judges, however, reaffirmed that, as a precedent for the future, circumcision was a form of “bodily injury” that was not justified by the parents’ wishes, and was unnecessary for the health of the child.

The regional court determined that the child’s “right to physical integrity” was more important than the constitutionally-guaranteed religious rights of the parents. The judges held that the religious freedom of parents, and their right to decide how to raise their children, would not be restricted if they were compelled to wait until the child himself decided whether he wanted to be circumcised. As described by the German weekly Der Spiegel, the court concluded that “a child’s right to self-determination should come first.”

The regional court opinion did not apply to the whole of Germany. But the Berlin Jewish Hospital announced that in accord with the law, it would suspend circumcision for religious purposes.

The controversy brought universal condemnation of Germany by Jewish and Muslim representatives, who were joined by Christian religious leaders in condemning the court action. Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the criminalization of circumcision could make Germany a “laughing-stock” of the world. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle pointed out that it would harm Germany’s efforts to present itself as a tolerant country. Many commentators agreed that the court opinion was especially problematic because of Germany’s history of anti-Jewish genocide during World War II.

Religious leaders were more severe in their comments. Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, called the court decision the worst attack on Jews in Germany since the Holocaust. Noting that the opinion was based on the ostensible rights of the child, Rabbi Goldschmidt warned that “the language of the human rights” is a new medium for anti-Jewish prejudice.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/the-circumcision-debate-in-germany-austria-and-switzerland/2012/07/30/

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