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May 4, 2009

Dear Friends:

In a few days I will be off to Washington, D.C. to attend the 103rd Annual Meeting
of the American Jewish Committee. While I haven’t attended them all, I have
been present for 39.8% of them (Figure that one out). Each and every one has
been exciting in its own way. I’m sure May 6-9, 2009 will be the same. If you’ll be
there as well, I’ll look forward to seeing you.


The big news in German – Jewish relations in the last couple of weeks was the
decision the German Government made to boycott the Durban II Conference in
Geneva. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the decision
was made out of concern that the event would be "misused as a platform for
ulterior interests," as happened at a 2001 UN anti-racism meeting in Durban,
South Africa. He wasn’t wrong!

The Jewish press both in the U.S. noted that the boycotting of the conference by
Germany and a host of other countries (including Holland, Poland, Italy, the U.S.
and Australia plus others) and the walking out by almost all the European
delegates during the Ahmadinejad speech was a victory for the Israel and the
Jewish organizations. I look at it in a different way. I think it was an inner-moral
victory for all those countries – especially Germany. There are times when a
country’s politics, economics and moral values are in conflict with one another.
When moral values win it is a true victory. Will they go back to politics and
economics (especially in this climate)? Of course! However, for the moment they
can feel that they did “the right thing” and they did!


If you are a dedicated reader of DuBow Digest you will recall that last year I
reported that the notorious Australian Holocaust denier, Fredrick Toben, was
arrested in Great Britain on a German arrest warrant for, what else, Holocaust

Denial which is a crime in Germany. After a long legal hassle he was released
because that particular crime is not a crime in the UK. So, this sleazy character
went home to Australia and, lo and behold, he was arrested there for the same
crime – which is actionable “Down Under”.
The JTA reported that he “was convicted on 24 of 28 counts of “deliberate and
calculated disobedience” of a 2002 Federal Court order to stop publishing
material denying the Holocaust, doubting the existence of gas chambers at
Auschwitz and vilifying Jews.
In the Federal Court in Adelaide, Justice Bruce Lander found in favor of Jeremy
Jones, a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, who
launched the legal action in 2006 after Toben had continued to publish anti-
Semitic material.
Toben's "conduct shows he does not accept that the freedom of speech citizens
of this country enjoy does not include the freedom to publish material calculated
to offend, insult or humiliate or intimidate people because of their race, color or
national or ethnic origin,” Justice Lander told the court. “It is conduct that
amounts to criminal contempt.”

Toben said that he would not pay the fine and would go to jail instead if his
appeal is not successful. I hope he has a nice Government vacation at “sleep
away camp” but, I fear, we have not heard the last of Mr. T. Stay tuned!

NAZI NEWSPAPERS O.K. recently reported that, “A British publisher who has
reprinted Nazi-era newspapers for educational purposes has won a
German court battle over their distribution.

The superior regional court in the southern city of Munich said it had ruled that
Peter McGee had not intended to whip up racial hatred when he published
annotated facsimiles of Nazi newspapers such as the Voelkischer Beobachter for
his weekly series Zeitungszeugen (Newspaper Witnesses).

The court statement, dated April 17, noted that printing Nazi swastikas from the
original mastheads, which are generally outlawed in Germany, are legal in an
educational context.

"This condition applies in this case because the accused as the publisher of
Zeitungszeugen is evidently pursuing the goal of enlightening citizens with his
publication, based on the choice of commentators and the selection of other
supplements," it said.

The publication includes three to four original newspaper sections from 1933-
1945 sandwiched between commentary and analysis from a team of experts,
and sells for €3.90.

The state of Bavaria had ordered the paper pulled from newsstands because
they could cause offence or be misused by neo-Nazis.

Defenders of the series, which went on sale in January, said the accompanying
commentary from leading historians put the papers in their proper historical

The tribunal said that the state of Bavaria, which owns the rights to Nazi
publications, could not appeal the decision. After the war, the US gave the
Bavarian state government copyrights for Nazi party publications, including Adolf
Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf.” It was also given the explicit responsibility to prevent
the further propagation of Nazi propaganda.

Both this case and the Toben case (above) pit free speech against the possibility
that words, written or spoken, might encourage extremism and the rise of neo-
Nazism. I fully understand that in both these cases it appears that freedom of
speech is being trampled upon. From an American point of view they are. I’m
sure that many Americans (Jews included) would very unhappily side with Toben
and McGee if these cases were brought in the U.S. However, as strange as it
may seem, other nations (Germany and Australia in these cases) while
democratic do not place the same value on our liberal understanding of free
speech. They have different histories (especially Germany) and, therefore, come
at some issues from a different perspective than we do. Will they get to where we
are some day? Maybe! Is our position the best position? I think so and so do our
courts. However, not all straight thinking people agree.

I think the lesson here goes beyond the free speech issue. Let’s see if I can spell
it out. People in other places have different thoughts, mores, philosophical
outlooks and laws than we Americans do. Are we right, better or morally superior
because of our beliefs? We might think so but they do not. So, if we are all to get
along, my advice is to think the issues through, take into consideration the other
guys’ feelings and if they don’t mirror our own and there is disagreement, well –
get used to it!

A JEWISH MASS GRAVE IN GERMANY recently reported that “German authorities began excavation
work at a site south of Berlin that they believe contains one of the last
undiscovered mass graves of Jews killed by the Nazis. The site is believed to be
the largest mass grave of Jewish World War Two victims in Germany outside
concentration camps.

The excavation site marks the spot where, on Feb. 2, 1945, 753 sick men and
women, originally from Poland and Hungary, are believed to have been killed by
the SS after being transported from Auschwitz death camp.

Peter Fischer from Germany's Central Council of Jews welcomed the start of

work, saying he was relieved that after decades of neglect, the crime scene
could be investigated. "There is no doubt that this is the historically authentic
place of one of the worst massacres around Berlin," Fischer told Reuters

During communist East German rule, a mass grave of Jewish victims was
discovered in a gravel pit nearby. At the time, 577 skeletons were moved to
another location, against Jewish custom, and a memorial erected.

But in Jamlitz an investigation was forbidden because a Soviet camp in which

thousands lost their lives after World War Two had operated on the same site.
Houses were later built there. Fischer said a similar fate would not befall the
victims in the mass grave now under investigation.

Obviously, the remains of all Holocaust victims should be recovered and properly
interred. This sort of undertaking is important and necessary especially in the
former East Germany. It is in this part of the united Germany where the NPD is
strongest and it is there that their citizens were taught only 20 years ago that
Israel was an enemy and that West Germany was the country of the Nazis. So,
focusing on the Holocaust in their own backyard is, in my opinion, instructive.


In a word, “no”. And, even if there was a genuine desire on the part of Germans
or anyone else to “put it behind them”, it seems that almost every day some new
evidence emerges. For instance, Der Spiegel recently reported, “In 1944, seven
Auschwitz inmates scribbled their names on a scrap of paper and hid it in a
wall to leave a trace of their existence in case they didn't survive the Nazi
death camp. That note has now been discovered, and at least one of the
prisoners, a Frenchman, is still alive.

Construction workers have found a message written by inmates of the Auschwitz

death camp almost 65 years ago, the memorial site's museum said on Tuesday.
The message dated Sept. 9, 1944, was signed by seven prisoners, of whom six
were Poles and one was French. At least two of them survived the camp, which
was liberated by Soviet forces more than four months later, on January 27, 1945.

There’s more:,1518,621720,00.html#ref=nlint

Thoughtful Germans (and others) understand the reality of what happened during
the 1930’ and 1940’s and deeply understand the lessons that must be learned
from it. I hope we all do. ‘Nuff said!


Leave it to Ruth Block of Los Angeles to dig out of the German language press a
couple of articles about a new study of anti-Semitism in Germany done at the

University of Jena. Ruth e-mailed the following to me, “According to a recent
study, anti-Semitism in Europe is no longer limited to the Right and the Left, but
is also evident in the Middle. Signs such as "I am an anti-Semite - and that is
good!" and signs with the "Star of David = the Swastika," have been seen.
Worrisome is the fact that these anti-Semites come from educated sections of
the population, doctors, attorneys, students. There is to be a symposium on anti-
Semitism in Jena today. Politically motivated criminal acts have been rising at an
alarming rate, said Monika Schwarz-Friesel, who conducted the study. Anti-
Israeli signs have also been on the increase. Welt and Berliner Morgenpost

So, like the good journalist I am trying to be, I found Prof. Schwarz-Friesel’s e-
mail address and wrote to her seeking more information. I received an answer
from one of her associates which said, “Unfortunately, we can't publish the
statistical results in advance, thus the conference only mentioned several
findings. Most of the quantitative tests are not finished jet. Besides, the study is
more interested in qualitative analyses”. However, he went on to say (and here
comes the important part) “The main result of our analyses seems to be, that
antisemitism is wide spread in mainstream society in Germany. It's not only a
problem of extremistic groups (of right and left), but also of the majority. Most of
the authors, who wrote antisemitic letters or emails to the Israel embassy in
Berlin or the "Zentralrat der Juden" are well off and can be regarded as elites.
Most significant, the hatred towards Jews is communicated as hatred towards
Israel, today. So the "new" anti-semitism is supported by our findings. A new
public communicative behaviour regarding antisemitism can be concluded.

First, I am indebted to Ruth for her research and reporting, Second, I’m surprised
that this study has not gotten more “ink” in both the German and American-
Jewish press. It seems to me significant. Stay tuned! We’ll try to keep on top of it
for you.

Benjamin Schwarz, the literary and national editor of The Atlantic wrote an article
entitled Hitler’s Co-Conspirators. It is about the best article I have ever read
about the German population during World War II – what they knew and when
they knew that great numbers of Jews were being murdered by their government.
I’m not going to distill it down for you or try to write a synopsis. If you want to
answer a lot of questions you might have about what Schwarz calls “the open
secret” of the slaughter of Jews by the Nazis then you yourself will just have to
read what I consider to be a prize winning article. However, to entice you to take
the time, Schwarz’s sub-heading is “New histories reveal that the Nazi Regime
deliberately insinuated knowledge of the Final Solution, devilishly making
Germans complicit in the crime and binding them, with guilt and dread, to their

It’s not all that long but it is crammed with useful information. In order to bring it
up, click here:

It’s not clear to me (or to anybody?) how important the EU is on matters of
foreign affairs – especially Middle East peace. Obviously, each country in the EU
has its own jealously held positions on the various issues – especially when it
comes to Israel & the Palestinians. Having said that, two articles appeared in
April in The April 23 edition reported, “Progress on
upgrading EU-Israel relations will remain frozen until Israel takes steps to repair
the peace process with Palestinians, the European Commission indicated on
Thursday (23 April).”We do not believe the time is right to go beyond the current
level of relations," external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said
in Brussels during an annual stock-taking of ties with its neighbours.

The April 30th edition carried Israel’s reply, “Israel is deeply unhappy with
comments made by EU officials regarding its government and the Palestinian
peace process and has threatened to end the bloc's mediation role in the region.
"Israel is asking Europe to lower the tone and conduct a discreet dialogue,"
deputy director for Europe at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak, told
European ambassadors in Israel this week reports Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz.
"However, if these declarations continue, Europe will not be able to be part of the
diplomatic process, and both sides will lose," he said. EU external affairs
commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner is causing the Israeli government
particular concern after the EU froze plans to upgrade the bloc's ties with the
country at the beginning of the year.

Talks to upgrade the current association agreement that defines relations

between the EU and Israel began in December 2008, but were suspended in
January over Israel's 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip that killed over 1,400
Palestinians. Last Thursday, Ms Ferrero-Waldner told journalists in Brussels that
the upgrade in bilateral ties would continue to be postponed until the "new Israeli
government shows a clear commitment to pursue peace negotiations with the
Palestinians." But Mr. Barak said it was unclear what gave Ms Ferrero-Waldner
the authority to make the statement on delaying closer ties as EU member state
governments had not made a formal decision on the matter.

"We want the European Union to be a partner [in the diplomatic process], but it is
important to hold a mature and discreet dialogue and not to resort to public
declarations," Barak told the European ambassadors in a series of telephone

The Israeli military recently conducted an internal investigation into claims of

human rights abuses during the short war and concluded it had not broken
international law, although human rights organisations were quick to point out
flaws in the investigation.

Brussels has campaigned for a two-state solution to the decades-old problem

and opposes continued Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.

Is this just muscle flexing on the part of the EU international relations arm? Is
Barak correct in questioning the authority of Ms. Ferrero-Waldner? And how
important is it all? I admit that I don’t really know. What I do know is that a
majority of Israelis would like their country to be a member of the EU. The April
23 edition (above) reports “The EU in December 2008 started talks on the
upgrade, which was to include regular bilateral summits and trade perks for
Israel. But Israel's launch of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza later the same month,
costing the lives of 415 Palestinian children, halted the process.

The Portuguese and Belgian foreign ministers at an EU meeting in March

indicated they would veto any re-start of the upgrade until concerns were met.
Swedish diplomats delivered the same message in Israel earlier this month.
Ordinary Israeli Jews feel strongly positive about the EU, despite the diplomatic
friction. Seventy-five percent said they would like Israel to join the 27-country
bloc in a fresh poll conducted by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Forty percent of
Israeli Arabs would also like the country to join. Accession is unlikely to happen
due to Article 49 of the EU treaty if nothing else, which states that any "European
state" meeting certain criteria is eligible to apply.

Where does that leave us? With both intra-Palestinian and Middle East peace
seemingly a long way off and Israel’s membership in the EU at least as far away,
we’re right back where we started. As far as European support for Israel I think I’ll
keep my eyes focused on Berlin and the other important capitals on the continent
and not the EU.

The study by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung is reported on by the Jerusalem

Post. It covers both Israeli feelings about the possibility of NATO troops in the
West Bank and Israel in the EU. Read it by clicking here:

If you wish to read the Germany Edition of DD which is quite different than this
version you can do so at . If you want to get it
directly by e-mail in the future please let me know and I’ll be glad to put you on
the list. Incidentally, the Germany Edition deals mostly with American Jewish
issues and is aimed primarily at a German audience.