“Their Mothers, their Fathers” – or maybe even ours - a movie that tries to promote thinking about the triteness of the reality of an evolution of crime as a worm that eats into what looks like civilized normalcy.
These days in New York we host the Carnegie Hall Festival “Vienna City of Dreams” which is a celebration of culture of the last 100 years which is in effect the time-span since the break out of WWI on June 28, 1914, and as a matter of fact includes also WWII.
To above Festival The Calgary, Alberta, CHUMIR FOUNDATION for Ethics in Leadership contributed a three events Symposium – “Vienna’s History and Legacy of the Past 150 Years” – and this morning coincidentally I received the Uri Avnery mailing about the German Film “THEIR MOTHERS, THEIR FATHERS” that is being shown in Israel. We find it all connects – and we start looking into this by bringing here the Uri Avnery article.
Also, these days the Peace Islands Institute, which is connected to a Turkish Cultural Center, had its own events in New York of which one – linked – without mentioning it – to the previous mentioned events – it was a panel on Intergovernmental Relations among Balkan Nations & The EU with the participation of the Ambassadors to the UN from Bulgaria, Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia, chaired by the President of the Federation of Balkan American Associations, that followed a similar earlier event that included Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Croatia but never looked at Slovenia or Austria. Then the same Peace Islands Institute followed on its studies of the three Abrahamic religions with a first inroad into Muslim – Buddhist understanding after quite successful previous activities into ethics of Muslim -Jewish mutual acceptance. These days such are events happening in New York.
March 1, 2014
Their Mothers, Their Fathers
IT IS the summer of 1941. Five youngsters – three young men and two young women – meet in a bar and spend a happy evening, flirting with each other, getting drunk, dancing forbidden foreign dances. They have grown up together in the same neighborhood of Berlin.
It is a happy time. The war started by Adolf Hitler a year and a half before has progressed incredibly well. In this short time Germany has conquered Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France. The Wehrmacht is invincible. The Führer is a genius, “the greatest military strategist of all times”.
So starts the film that is running now in our cinemas – a unique historical document. It goes on for five breathless hours, and continues to occupy the thoughts and emotions of its viewers for days and weeks.
Basically it is a film made by Germans for Germans. The German title says it all: “Our Mothers, Our Fathers”. The purpose is to answer the questions troubling many of the young Germans of today: Who were our parents and grandparents? What did they do during the terrible war? What did they feel? What was their part in the horrible crimes committed by the Nazis?
These questions are not asked in the film explicitly. But every German viewer is compelled to ask them. There are no clear answers. The film does not probe the depths. Rather, it shows a broad panorama of the German people in wartime, the various sections of society, the different types, from the war criminals, through the passive onlookers, to the victims.
The Holocaust is not the center of events, but it is there all the time, not as a separate event but woven into the fabric of reality.
THE FILM starts in 1941, and therefore cannot answer the question which, to my mind, is the most important one: How could a civilized nation, perhaps the most cultured in the world, elect a government whose program was blatantly criminal?
True, Hitler was never elected by an absolute majority in free elections. But he came very close to it. And he easily found political partners who were ready to help him form a government.
Some said at the time that it was a uniquely German phenomenon, the expression of the particular German mentality, formed during centuries of history. That theory has been discredited by now. But if so, can it happen in any other country? Can it happen in our own country? Can it happen today? What are the circumstances that make it possible?
The film does not answer these question. It leaves the answers to the viewer.
The young heroes of the film do not ask. They were ten years old when the Nazis came to power, and for them the “Thousand-Year Reich” (as the Nazis called it) was the only reality they knew. It was the natural state of things. That’s where the plot starts.
TWO OF the youngsters were soldiers. One had already seen war and was wearing a medal for valor. His brother had just been called up. The third young man was a Jew. Like the two girls, they are full of youthful exuberance. Everything was looking fine.
The war? Well, it can’t last much longer, can it? The Führer himself has promised that by Christmas the Final Victory will be won. The five young people promise each other to meet again at Christmas. No one has the slightest premonition of the terrible experiences in store for each of them.
While viewing the scene, I could not help thinking about my former class. A few weeks after the Nazis’ assumption of power, I became a pupil in the first class of high school in Hanover. My schoolmates were the same age as the heroes of the film. They would have been called up in 1941, and because it was an elitist school, all of them would probably have become officers.
Half way through the first year in high schooI, my family took me to Palestine. I never met any of my schoolmates again, except one (Rudolf Augstein, the founder of the magazine Der Spiegel, whom I met years after the war and who became my friend again.) What happened to all the others? How many survived the war? How many were maimed? How many had become war criminals?
In the summer of 1941 they were probably as happy as the youngsters in the film, hoping to be home by Christmas.
THE TWO brothers were sent to the Russian front, an unimaginable hell. The film succeeds in showing the realities of war, easily recognizable by anyone who has been a soldier in combat. Only that this combat was a hundredfold worse, and the film shows it brilliantly.
The older brother, a lieutenant, tries to shield the younger one. The bloodbath that goes on for four more years, day after day, hour after hour, changes their character. They become brutalized. Death is all around them, they see horrible war crimes, they are commanded to shoot prisoners, they see Jewish children butchered. In the beginning they still dare to protest feebly, then they keep their doubts to themselves, then they take part in the crimes as a matter of course.
One of the young women volunteers for a frontline military hospital, witnesses the awful agonies of the wounded, denounces a Jewish fellow nurse and immediately feels remorse, and in the end is raped by Soviet soldiers near Berlin, as were almost all German women in the areas conquered by the revenge-thirsty Soviet army.
Israeli viewers might be more interested in the fate of the Jewish boy, who took part in the happy feast at the beginning. His father is a proud German, who cannot imagine Germans doing the bad things threatened by Hitler. He does not dream of leaving his beloved fatherland. But he warns his son about having sexual relations with his Aryan girlfriend. “It’s against the law!”
When the son tries to flee abroad, “aided” by a treacherous Gestapo officer, he is caught, sent to the death camps, succeeds in escaping on the way, joins the Polish partisans (who hate the Jews more than the Nazis) and in the end survives.
Perhaps the most tragic figure is the second girl, a frivolous, carefree singer who sleeps with a senior SS officer to further her career, is sent with her troupe to entertain the troops at the front, sees what is really happening, speaks out about the war, is sent to prison and executed in the last hours of the war.
BUT THE fate of the heroes is only the skeleton of the film. More important are the little moments, the daily life, the portrayal of the various characters of German society.
For example, when a friend visits the apartment where the Jewish family had been living, the blond Aryan woman who was allotted the place complains about the state of the apartment from which the Jews had been fetched and sent to their death: “They didn’t even clean up before they left! That’s how the Jews are, dirty people!”
Everyone lives in constant fear of being denounced. It is a pervading terror, which nobody can escape. Even at the front, with death staring therm in the face, a hint of doubt about the Final Victory uttered by a soldier is immediately silenced by his comrades. “Are you crazy?”
Even worse is the deadening atmosphere of universal agreement. From the highest officer to the lowliest maid, everybody is repeating endlessly the propaganda slogans of the regime. Not out of fear, but because they believe every word of the all-pervading propaganda machine. They hear nothing else.
It is immensely important to understand this. In the totalitarian state, fascist or communist or whatever, only the very few free spirits can withstand the endlessly repeated slogans of the government. Everything else sounds unreal, abnormal, crazy. When the Soviet army was already fighting its way through Poland and nearing Berlin, people were unwavering in their belief in the Final Victory. After all, the Führer says so, and the Führer is never wrong. The very idea is preposterous.
It is this element of the situation that is difficult for many people to grasp. A citizen under a criminal totalitarian regime becomes a child. Propaganda becomes for him reality, the only reality he knows. It is more effective than even the terror.
THIS IS the answer to the question we cannot abstain from asking again and again: How was the Holocaust possible? It was planned by a few, but it was implemented by hundreds of thousands of Germans, from the engine driver of the train to the officials who shuffled the papers. How could they do it?
They could, because it was the natural thing to do. After all, the Jews were out to destroy Germany. The communist hordes were threatening the life of every true Aryan. Germany needed more living space. The Führer has said so.
That’s why the film is so important, not only for the Germans, but for every people, including our own.
People who carelessly play with ultra-nationalist, fascist, racist, or other anti-democratic ideas don’t realize that they are playing with fire. They cannot even imagine what it means to live in a country that tramples on human rights, that despises democracy, that oppresses another people, that demonizes minorities. The film shows what it is like: hell.
THE FILM does not hide that the Jews were the main victims of the Nazi Reich, and nothing comes near their sufferings. But the second victim was the German people, victims of themselves.
Many people insist that after this trauma, Jews cannot behave like a normal people, and that therefore Israel cannot be judged by the standards of normal states. They are traumatized.
This is true for the German people, too. The very need to produce this unusual film proves that the Nazi specter is still haunting the Germans, that they are still traumatized by their past.
When Angela Merkel came this week to see Binyamin Netanyahu, the whole world laughed at the photo of our Prime Minister’s finger inadvertently painting a moustache on the Kanzlerin’s face.
But the relationship between our two traumatized peoples is far from a joke.
THE 90 year young URI AVNERY NEVER ENDED HIGH-SCHOOL BUT HE IS NON-DISPUTABLE ISRAEL’S GREATEST JOURNALIST AND MOST FAMOUS EX-MEMBER OF THE KNESSET (PARLIAMENT). WHO COULD SAY WHAT GERMANY LOST – IF NOT FOR HITLER – HE WOULD HAVE HIMSELF BEEN NOW A SECULAR COMPLETELY ASSIMILATED GERMAN?
On the occasion of the International Year of Family Farming 2014,
the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna, in cooperation with this human world (THW) Film Festival and Topkino,
presented the Ciné-ONU Vienna screening of the documentary“The Moo Man”
(by Andy Heathcote, UK 2013, 98 min, English)
followed by a Q&A session with invited guests, free entry.
Date / Time: 24 February 2014, 18:30 hrs Location: Topkino, Rahlgasse 1, 1060 ViennaParticipants of the panel discussion:
Elisabeth Sötz - Advisor for Environment and Natural Resources, ADA (Austrian Development Agency) Nikolaus Morawitz – Head of EU & International Affairs, Austrian Chamber of Agriculture Frank Hartwich – Industrial Development Officer, UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) Janos Tisovszky – Outgoing Director, United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna (Moderator) ———————————————————————————————————————
as reported for SustainabiliTank by Ms. Irith Jawetz:
“The Moo Man” tells the remarkable story of a maverick farmer and his unruly cows, filmed over four years on the marshes of the Pevensey Levels*. In an attempt to save his family farm, Stephen Hook decides to turn his back on the cost cutting dairies and supermarkets, and instead stay small and keep his close relationship with the herd. However farmer Hook’s plans to save the farm do not always go down well with his 55 spirited cows. The result is a laugh-out-loud, emotional roller-coaster of a journey. “Heart warming, a tearjerker of a movie, about the incredible bonds between man, animal and countryside.”
Mr. Hook describes his cows as “family”. While the average life span of a cow on a farm is 5 to 6 years, his cows live 9 to 10 years. “We do not push them, they are more relaxed” he explains as the reason for their long life.
The film follows partly the story of his favorite cow, Ida. “Ida is a symbol of what we do” says Mr. Hook. We follow her life until she passes away and the sadness expressed by Mr. Hook is really touching. “She was a lovely cow the queen of the herd, and had a lot of character” Mr. Hook laments .
Farming is a 24/7 job, with no time off. Mr. Hook explains that the work is hard and you basically work for nothing. He milks the cows himself with little help, since he cannot afford to employ people, bottles them and brings them to the customers in his truck. This milk is literally brought from the cow to the consumers directly. However, it is a losing battle because of the high costs. As Mr. Hook explains nobody wants to farm anymore because you work hard for nothing. Family farms close down all over England and Wales.
The discussion after the film focused basically on how the private farms could be helped. They all agreed that farmers need subsidies, that is why the United States had the farm Bill. There is also a big difference between small farms in developed countries and those in developing countries – and that is where three essential facts were put forward to produce the best conditions for successful farming:
1) Stable policy on environment by the respective government;
2) Providing education, skills, and know-how to the farmers;
3) Organization, i.e. lobbying & marketing.
This is where developing countries falter, while developed countries are doing better. In the developed countries, especially in the EU, the farmers are well represented, have a strong lobby and basically do better.
One big problem for the farmers is Climate Change. Since they cannot predict the weather, it is difficult for them to know when to plant what and whether the weather will cooperate.
Sudden floods, drought may ruin the whole crop.
A second problem is urbanization. Young people move to the cities seeking easier and more profitable jobs.
Agri-tourism is a small help. Small farms, especially in the EU open B & B facilities for families, particularly city folks with children, to spend time on the farm. The income helps.
It was all in all an interesting evening, combining an endearing film with lots of emotions, yet also laughter, and a serious discussion afterwards.
Pevensey Levels NNR lies in the heart of a large grazing marsh which is home to many species of wetland bird.
This event – the showing of the movie to the public at large – by a UN Information Service/Center – shows what an outreach of the UN can do even in a developed country – that is not just assuming the role of the UN is just to teach the backward developing countries.
Sent: Sunday, February 21, 2014 12:37 PM Subject: Fwd: FW: KERRY’S BROTHER CAMERON WRITES A LETTER
While we were traveling last week, an Israeli Knesset member accused my brother of anti-Semitism and a group of rabbis said he is waging “war on God.” I wrote this op-ed in response on the plane back; it appears (in Hebrew) in today’s Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s widest circulation paper. Since it discusses our trip, I thought it might interest you:
By Cameron Kerry
Last week at this time, I was in Terezin, Czech Republic, at the 18th Century fortress where the Nazis gathered Jews from Czechoslovakia, Austria,Germany, and other countries for the tragic journey to death camps further east. I joined a group from the Boston synagogue, of which my wife is the lay head, in traveling to Europe to celebrate Torah scrolls miraculously saved from Czech synagogues during World War II and restored 50 years ago. Both of my daughters became a Bat Mitzvah reading from a scroll rescued from the Bohemian town of Blatna, from which 26 Jews were transported to Terezin and none survived.
At Terezin, I walked along the banks of Ohre River and joined other members of our temple in saying Kaddish at the place where the Nazis poured out the cremated remains of some 22,000 inmates who died at Terezin. These presumably included the remains of my paternal great-uncle Otto Lowe, who died at Terezin in 1942. He, along with his sister Jenni, was transported to Terezin in 1942. Jenni was soon sent to die at Treblinka.
These experiences and their deeply personal meaning for my family make it all the more disturbing that some have recently suggested that my brother, John Kerry, had expressed “anti-Semitic undertones” in his pursuit of a framework for negotiations, and some even suggested that he “has declared war on God.” Such charges would be ridiculous if they were not so vile.
My family’s experience with anti-Semitism and oppression runs deep. On another visit to the Czech Republic last fall, I visited the town where my grandfather Frederick Kerry was born Fritz Kohn. A few years before emigrating to America, while serving in the military, my grandfather converted from Judaism to Catholicism because of anti-Semitism in the ranks. In memory — and in honor — of the Kohns, I planted a tree in my grandfather’s town.
This experience is not limited to the side of the family with Jewish roots. My mother – a Bostonian – was living in Paris training to become a nurse when World War II broke out, and she was among the mass of refugees who escaped the city in front of the Nazis. The sister she left with was later interned for helping the resistance in the south of France, where her activities included helping Jewish families get out of the country. My grandparents’ home was occupied by the Nazis and later destroyed by them because it offered an artillery spotting post in battles with Patton’s army.
All this is part of my brother John Kerry’s DNA. His earliest memory is of holding our mother’s hand as, soon after the war, she walked in tears viewing the ruins of that house. With my father serving his country in the State Department, our family took up a posting in Berlin with bombed, burned out, and shot-up buildings still visible across Europe. My brother embraced my own conversion to Judaism when I got married. He has been part of our family mitzvot. He was present when my daughters read from the Blatna scroll and helped to raise the chairs in which they were paraded on the dance floor.
I recall when he came home from his first visit to Israel with friends from the Boston Jewish community, more than thirty years ago as a young Senator: he spoke vividly of flying an Israeli military jet over the country and realizing how it was possible to cross the country in a matter of moments. Today, his determined work on Middle East peace is informed by an abiding sense of the need to secure Israel as a home for the Jewish people. For years since that first visit, he has engaged passionately with a wide variety of leaders in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and across the region to understand the way to peace. He also maintained a 100-percent pro-Israel voting record during his nearly three decades in the U.S. senate.
It is this deep involvement that has led to the conviction that Israel’s long-term security requires a two-state solution — that, in the face of the inexorable forces of security, demographics, and geography, Israel cannot sustain occupation of the West Bank and remain both democratic and Jewish. It is the same conclusion that such resolute defenders of Israel as Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon reached and that Prime Minister Netanyahu is confronting now.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Lieberman, and Ambassador Dermer were courageous in their defense of my brother’s motives. We can all debate the effectiveness of security measures, the delineation of borders, arrangements for East Jerusalem, and other real issues among the parties, but there is no truth and no good that can come by calling into question John Kerry’s good faith toward his own heritage. Israel and the Jewish people deserve better than that.
Vienna’s History and Legacy of the Past 150 Years.
Celebrating the Arts, Learning From Politics, War and Reconciliation.
In memory of the First World War – the 1914 War only 100 years ago.
A Symposium divided into three days – part of a larger 90 events Festival organized by Carnegie Hall.
VIENNA 1860 TO 1914:
CREATIVITY, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND POLITICS.Fin de siècle Vienna was creative, cosmopolitan, and modern, as well as a hothouse of political ferment. How did arts and politics intermingle and influence a city’s and country’s destiny? A panel of leaders in arts and science discusses creativity as well as historic and contemporary examples of the arts as both a political tool and healing mechanism. Participants: Eric Kandel, Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, Christian Meyer, Dominique Meyer, Helga Rabl-Stadler, Franz Welser-Möst; Moderator: Carol Off
HOW DID THE CULTURED, CREATIVE SOCIETY OF
VIENNA LOSE ITS MORAL COMPASS – COMING TO TERMS.
Vienna’s creative, cultured, and open society deteriorated in the years leading to the 1938 Anschluss. Why did it happen and why did Austria take so long to recognize the horrors of the Holocaust? A panel explores a new generation’s constructive efforts at remembrance and reconciliation.
Participants: Martin Eichtinger, Stuart Eizenstat, Clemens Hellsberg, Oliver Rathkolb, Alexandra Starr; Moderator: Morley Safer
A GLOBAL ETHIC, CONTEMPORARY RISKS
AND APPROPRIATE RESPONSES – LESSONS OF HISTORY.With the experience of past conflicts and an examination of contemporary problems and risks, how does an increasingly globalized and interdependent world deal with ongoing issues and tensions? A panel of diplomatic and crisis-response experts debates whether the world is doing enough to avoid moral atrocities and advance ethical behaviour. Participants: Louise Arbour, Robert Hormats, Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff; Moderator: Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal
The Symposium at a glance:
The symposium explores a specific period in history, seeking to inform
current thinking and facilitate participation in a dialogue on current
conditions and foster action on vital ethical choices:
• What makes a community creative, dynamic, productive and
comfort able? What can we do to inspire more of what was best
about that legacy in our communities today?
• What causes a society to become morally destructive? What
constructive measures can we take today, some years and even
generations of leadership later, to learn from past horrors
• Are there signs of trouble around us? What are the prospects of
doing what is needed for an ethical outcome?
The events take place at the Paley Center for Media
I AM WRAPPED IN INTENSIVE CRAVING / I want to live / I want to Smile and Carry Burdens / and would like to fight, love, and hate / and would like to reach out to the sky with my hands / and would like to be free and breeze and shout. I do not want to die / NO! / NO ./ Life is Red / Life is Mine. / Mine and Yours. / Mine.
writes in German – her mother-tongue (and home-life Austrian culture ) – a teen-age girl in Czernowitz – at the time Romania – before her family’s deportation to a place from where only a few returned. Her notes survived miraculously thanks to loyalty of friends.Still a Must-Read for those that ought not to forget. (my translation)
Mr. Bilak was a former hard-line communist leader who paved the way for Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
Just a timely reminder following the Syrian’s allegation that the lack of law in his country is not internal/local but external/by occupation – so what in the hell is the Russian meaning when he says intervention from the outside is “Verboten.”
The Event at the UN, the news building about Showcase Sochi and the spotlight on suppression of democracy in Russia by a new Czar-bound Russian Megaloman who reaches out to the Ukraine and to Syria as steps in his dream of reconstituting the Soviet empire are just pathetic. We found the move to kill the Sochi dogs much worse then the keeping of street children away from Rio de Janeiro during Brazil’s days of glory when they hosted the Climate Change Convention meeting. Death is final even for dogs! In Syria it is for humans as well!
And let us not forget why I was at the UN. These are days the UN is trying to come up with a global regime for the post 2015 era – that will be based on Sustainable Development Goals and the meeting yesterday, with lots of participants trying their best to show that without Rule of Law – or more accurate Rule By Law – and Good Governance – there will be no Sustainability. These are things we advocated years ago and our website has on the right side of the Home-page the booklet – The PROMPTBOOK - we wrote for the 2002 Johannesburg Summit – so our readers are familiar with our hopes. Encouraging yesterday was that all speakers except the Syrian and the Russian did indeed address the issues and their questions were not plain national propaganda like these two renegade States showed. The Hungarian Chair of the Open Working Group navigated this very well.
The Olympic Games that open in Sochi, Russia, on Friday are intended to be the fulfillment of President Vladimir Putin’s quest for prestige and power on the world stage. But the reality of Mr. Putin and the Russia he leads conflicts starkly with Olympic ideals and fundamental human rights. There is no way to ignore the dark side — the soul-crushing repression, the cruel new antigay and blasphemy laws and the corrupt legal system in which political dissidents are sentenced to lengthy terms on false charges.
Maria Alyokhina, 25, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk band, are determined that the glossy celebration of the Olympics will not whitewash the reality of Mr. Putin’s Russia, which they know from experience. Charged with “hooliganism,” they were incarcerated for 21 months for performing an anti-Putin song on the altar of a Moscow cathedral that cast the Russian Orthodox Church as a tool of the state.
Such political protest is not tolerated in a nation that is a long way from a democracy. In December, the women were freed under a new amnesty law that was an attempt by Mr. Putin to soften his authoritarian image before the Olympics.
But if he thought releasing the two women from prison would silence them, he miscalculated badly. On Wednesday, they told The Times’s editorial board that their imprisonment, and the international support it rallied to their cause, had emboldened them. They plan to keep criticizing Mr. Putin — they were hilarious on Stephen Colbert’s show the night before — and working for prison and judicial reform. Their resolve and strength of character are inspiring.
There is a lot of work to do, beginning with the cases of eight people who are now on trial, charged with mass disorder at a protest at Bolotnaya Square in Moscow in 2012 on the eve of Mr. Putin’s third inauguration as president. Amnesty International, which sponsored the Pussy Riot visit to New York, where they appeared at a benefit concert on Wednesday, has called for dropping the charges of incitement to riot against the Bolotnaya demonstrators. The Pussy Riot activists dismissed the charges against those demonstrators as baseless and more evidence of “Putin’s way of getting revenge” on his critics.
A Russian prosecutor has demanded prison terms of five and six years for the eight protesters, with the verdict expected a few days before the Olympics end in late February. Ms. Alyokhina and Ms. Tolokonnikova have called for a boycott of the Olympics, or other protests, to pressure the government into freeing the defendants. The most important thing is that the world speak out now, while Mr. Putin is at the center of attention and presumably cares what it thinks.
More broadly, the Russian penal system is in desperate need of reform. The activists described conditions in which prisoners are cowed into “obedient slaves,” forced to work up to 20 hours a day, with food that is little better than refuse. Those who are considered troublemakers can be forced to stand outdoors for hours, regardless of the weather; prohibited from using the bathroom; or beaten.
Their observations are reinforced by the State Department’s 2012 human rights report, which said that limited access to health care, food shortages, abuse by guards and inmates, inadequate sanitation and overcrowding were common in Russian prisons, and that in some the conditions can be life threatening.
The Olympics cannot but put a spotlight on the host country, and despite all efforts to create a more pleasant image of his state, Mr. Putin is facing a growing protest. On Wednesday, more than 200 prominent international authors, including Günter Grass, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Franzen, published a letter denouncing the “chokehold” they said the new antigay and blasphemy laws place on freedom of expression.
Mr. Putin has unconstrained power to put anyone associated with Pussy Riot and thousands of other political activists in prison. But these women and those who share their commitment to freedom and justice are unlikely to be silenced, and they offer Russia a much better future.
MOSCOW — After President Vladimir V. Putin delivered Russia’s successful pitch to host the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi — in English and a smattering of French, no less — he declared it an international validation of the Russia that had emerged from the ruins of the Soviet Union.
“It is, beyond any doubt, a judgment on our country,” he said then, nearly seven years ago.
Now, as the first events begin, the Games have for Mr. Putin and his allies become a self-evident triumph of Russia’s will. The avalanche of criticism that has already fallen, from minor complaints about ill-prepared hotels and stray dogs to grave concerns about the costs, security and human rights, is being brushed away like snowflakes from a winter coat.
“Its realization is already a huge win for our country,” Dmitri N. Kozak, a deputy prime minister and one of Mr. Putin’s longest-standing aides, said in Sochi on Thursday. He went on to use a phrase attributed to Catherine the Great when she intervened to halt the court-martial of a general who had stormed an Ottoman fortress without orders in the 18th century: “Victors are not judged.”
Aleksei A. Navalny, a critic of Mr. Putin, said the money spent on the Sochi Games represented a missed opportunity.James Hill for The New York Times
The Games are a crowning moment for Mr. Putin, a chance to demonstrate anew his mastery of the global levers of power, but perhaps not for the country he governs. With Russia’s natural-resource dependent economy slowing as commodities prices fall, and with foreign investments drying up, the Kremlin has already signaled that it would have to cut spending. The $50 billion or so lavished on Sochi is becoming a political liability.
Lilia Shevtsova, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, argued that the International Olympic Committee awarded the games to Sochi — over Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea — when Mr. Putin was at the zenith of his powers in his second term but when the verdict on his legacy remained an open one. Many had been critical of his authoritarian instincts after he rose to power, including the tightening of news media and political freedoms and the war in Chechnya, but Russia had indisputably recovered from the chaos of the 1990s.
“At that time, Russia was ‘rising from its knees,’ ” Ms. Shevtsova wrote in an essay on the center’s website, “whereas now — in 2014 — Russia has started its downward slide.”
The stalling of the economy, despite the stimulus of Olympic spending, has raised worries about popular unrest directed at the Kremlin and a tightening of political freedoms in response once the Games are over.
Growth last year slowed to 1.3 percent, the lowest in a decade except for during the global recession in 2009, even as other major economies showed signs of recovery. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently called for urgent changes in labor policies, productivity and a government and legal bureaucracy that now stifle development — all long promised but not enacted.
“Structural reforms to improve the business climate are key to raising potential growth and economic resilience,” the organization wrote in its survey of Russia’s economy last month. “As energy prices stagnate and labor and capital become fully utilized, growth is falling behind pre-crisis rates. Making the economy stronger, more balanced, and less dependent on rents from national resource extraction is therefore a key challenge.”
The sheer cost of the Games has suddenly become a liability even in a political system that allows little room for public debate about the wisdom of government spending.
“It is about a lost chance,” said Aleksei A. Navalny, whose Foundation for the Fight Against Corruption recently published an interactive website charting what critics have called excessive waste and corruption in the construction of the Olympic facilities. “It is about what Russia could have done with this money. We could have had a new industrialization along the same lines as the industrialization under Stalin.
Instead, he added, “it’s just one crazy little czar who chose to throw money right and left in some kind of madness.”
Russia is not about to collapse. Nor does Mr. Putin’s rule face any foreseeable challenge, something even a determined critic like Mr. Navalny acknowledged. Mr. Putin’s approval rating, bolstered by lavishly positive coverage on state television, remains as high as when he first came to office.
Hosting the Olympics, however, seems to have lost some of the luster officials expected for Russia’s prestige at home and abroad, much to the frustration of Mr. Putin’s supporters.
The Olympics have refocused international attention on the hard-line policies Mr. Putin’s government has pursued since he returned to the presidency in 2012 after four years as prime minister, and prompted calls for protests and even boycotts.
Julia Kerschbaumsteiner, the Enargy spokesperson Greenpeace welcomed the fact that the European Parliament (the Equivalent of the US House of Representatives) is increasing the European Union suggestions for the post-2015 period with aims for 2030 which are higher then what the European Commission (the equivalent of the US Senate) was suggesting.
As per news from the Austrian OERF:
EU-Parlament fordert verbindliche Klimaziele bis 2030
Das EU-Parlament hat verbindlichere und ehrgeizigere Klimaziele als die von der EU-Kommission vorgeschlagenen verlangt. Die EU-Abgeordneten verabschiedeten heute in Straßburg eine nicht bindende Entschließung, die neben einer Senkung des CO2-Ausstoßes von 40 Prozent einen Anteil von erneuerbaren Energiequellen von 30 Prozent und eine Verbesserung der Energieeffizienz um 40 Prozent bis 2030 fordert.
Die Abgeordneten kritisierten die jüngsten Vorschläge der EU-Kommission als „kurzsichtig und unambitioniert“. Die EU-Kommission hatte den Ausbau der erneuerbaren Energiequellen auf 27 Prozent vorgeschlagen, dabei aber nur ein europäisches Ziel angestrebt. Die EU-Parlamentarier verlangen, dass diese Vorgabe mit Hilfe einzelner nationaler Ziele verwirklicht werden sollte. Dabei sollen die Situation und das Potenzial des jeweiligen EU-Staates berücksichtigt werden.
Die Umweltorganisation Greenpeace begrüßte, dass die „Minimalkompromisse“, die von der EU-Kommission in einem Vorschlag vorgelegt wurden, vom Parlament deutlich überboten wurden. „Die EU-Energiepolitik muss sich nun am Parlament orientieren“, forderte Julia Kerschbaumsteiner, Energiesprecherin von Greenpeace.
Assistant Professor in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University
Fellow, Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem
In his book, The Jew, the Arab: A History of the Enemy (Stanford UP, 2003), Gil Anidjar examines the absence of the enemy together with the absence of a history of Europe’s relation to both Jew and Arab in the Western philosophical, political and religious canon. The book is an attempt to analyze, in historical and theoretical terms, why these two absences are not reflected upon, what prevents such reflection.
According to ORF – the Austrian Government official information network – the eU headquarters in Brussels are talking seriousli about a CLIMATE POLICY based on CO2 emissions reduction, the introduction of more renewable sources and rules for the Shale-Gas fracking technology.
The figures being proposed now are a binding -40% CO2 by 2030 (based on 1990) which is better then the previously proposed -20% by 2020 – but still far bellow what Germany is propsing. Similarlyfor the introduction of Renewable Sources of Energy where the figure is being moved to 27% but here it is much more flexible – that is not an all Union binding figure – but an open achievement goal to the Member States. Will Germany accept these new figures – this is still an open question – but at least we see here a move to reach an agreement.
Similarly, the introduction of Shale fracking gas is a given conclusion but it will have to happen within a recommended framework as the environmental problems with water quality are now on the common table.
Die EU-Kommission schlägt im Kampf gegen den Klimawandel eine Reduzierung des Kohlendioxidausstoßes in der Europäischen Union bis 2030 um 40 Prozent vor. Bisher waren es 20 Prozent für 2020. Zugleich soll der Anteil von erneuerbaren Energieträgern auf 27 Prozent steigen, wie die Brüsseler Behörde heute bekanntgab.
Während das CO2-Ziel rechtlich verbindlich sein soll, will die Kommission den Mitgliedsstaaten beim Anteil der erneuerbaren Energie mehr Flexibilität einräumen. Beide Klimaziele beziehen sich auf die Werte von 1990.
Die Vorschläge der Brüsseler Behörde dürften auf Widerstand im EU-Parlament und bei einigen EU-Staaten wie Deutschland stoßen, die sich für ambitioniertere Ziele starkgemacht hatten. Bis sich die EU-Institutionen auf ein gemeinsames Paket geeinigt haben, dürften angesichts des langwierigen EU-Gesetzgebungsverfahrens und der unterschiedlichen Positionen noch Jahre vergehen.
Mindeststandards beim Fracking
EU-Staaten, die mit der umstrittenen Fracking-Methode Schiefergas fördern wollen, sollen nach dem Willen der EU-Kommission Mindeststandards zum Schutz von Umwelt und Gesundheit einhalten. „Schiefergas weckt Hoffnungen in manchen Teilen von Europa, aber ist auch ein Grund für Sorgen in der Bevölkerung“, so EU-Umweltkommissar Janez Potocnik in Brüssel. Die EU-Staaten sollten daher Mindeststandards beim Fracking befolgen.
Demnach soll es etwa Folgeabschätzungen und Analysen für Auswirkungen und Risiken für die Umwelt geben. Die EU fordert außerdem, dass vor dem Beginn der Arbeiten die Qualität von Wasser, Luft und Böden getestet wird, um mögliche Verschlechterungen durch das Fracking feststellen zu können. Die Anrainer sollen zudem über die eingesetzten Chemikalien informiert werden.
Die Mitgliedsstaaten bekommen damit aus Brüssel keine rechtlich verbindlichen Vorgaben. Potocnik kündigt aber an, dass die EU-Kommission die Umsetzung überprüfen und in anderthalb Jahren eine Bilanz ziehen will.
Invitation to the debate of “The participation of Civil Society in peace negotiations is indispensable for sustainable peace” on the 20 January 2014.
On behalf of the Austrian Institute for International Affairs – oiip
I would like to invite you to the following Debate:
“The participation of Civil Society in peace negotiations
is indispensable for sustainable peace”
For the motion: Véronique Dudouet, Berghof Foundation, Berlin
Christian Wlaschütz,Independent consultant, Vienna
Against the motion: Jan Pospisil, oiip Stefan Khittel, oiip
Moderation: Otmar Höll, oiip In 2012 peace processes in Colombia and the Philippines were resumed after months of secret negotiations. How is it possible to involve Civil Society in such a process? And why should one do so?
What are the conceivable pitfalls of Civil Society participation and what does its exclusion entail?
Date: Monday, 20 January 2014, 15:00-18:00
Venue: Austrian Institute for International Affairs – oiip,
Berggasse 7, 1090 Vienna
THE CRISES IN THE SAHEL REGION AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE FOR EUROPE.
Michel Reveyrand de Menthon
EU Special Representative for the Sahel
Federal Ministry for Defense and Sports; Head of Africa Policy Department
Member of the Board of the Bruno Kreisky Forum
For some time now, the European Union has recognized the Sahel Region as an area where security and development are closely interlinked and where the EU can and should play an important role in bringing these two aspects together. The EU had therefore worked out a ‘Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel’ and made this by Council decision an official part of European Common Foreign Policy. With the events in Mali, not even one year ago, this strategy took on a special significance and the EU decided, in March 2013, to nominate Michel Reveyrand de Menthon as EU Special Representative for the Sahel Region. The key aspect of his mandate is to contribute to the implementation, coordination and further development of the Unions comprehensive approach to the regional crisis, on the basis of its Strategy, with a view to enhancing the overall coherence and effectiveness of Union activities in the Sahel, in particular in Mali.
Although the Sahel region had designated as its primary focus namely Mali, Mauritania and Niger, it was clear that the regional ramifications would extend to the Maghreb and South and East to the adjacent African countries.
The presentation of M. Reveyrand de Menthon will therefore cover a wider geographical area, and will have a particular significance also in view of the very recent intensification of the conflict in the Central African Republic.
For Austria, the topic, and the visit of M. Reveyrand de Menthon has particular relevance because of the participation of a small contingent of troops in the EU Training Mission in Mali.
Czernowitz games: When I was a little boy we played silly games. One of these was “Hokus Pokus Verschwindibus. “
A game that made things disappear. The Great Magician was a boy from the Waechterweg. He asked we bring some object of value from home and he would make it disappear. We just had to hand him the object , close our eyes and he would say the magic formula: “Hokus Pokus Verschwindibus. “ And the object was gone. Also the Magician.
Hardy Breier of the Czernowitz and Sadagora Jewish History and Genealogy Site.
First as posted by us on December 11, 2013, but then we added on December 13th an Uri Avnery unforgiving point of view that explains why neither the Israeli President nor the Prime-Minister accepted the chance to travel to Johannesburg. We attach this at the end of our own review of the Israeli delegation.
Knesset Speaker Edelstein meets former President Carter.
In a chance meeting at a South Africa airport following the memorial service held in memory of Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, Israel’s Knesset Speaker, Yuli Edelstein, discussed the country’s military enlistment program for ultra-Orthodox communities with former U.S. president, Jimmy Carter.
A source in Edelstein’s office told The Algemeiner that Carter “asked the Speaker all about the Orthodox going to the military in Israel.”
“Is it really going to be?” Carter asked, according to the source.
Historically Israel’s ultra-Orthodox have been exempt from Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military service, until recent laws calling for their enlistment were introduced.
Although known for his outspoken hostility toward Israel and his accusations of apartheid against the Jewish state, Carter was friendly in the meeting.
“He was very friendly,” the source said, “although the Speaker of the Knesset is a Settler, he lives in Judea and Samaria.”
Explaining his position on IDF enlistment for the Charedim, Edelstein vowed to work to protect the parties.
“As long as I am Speaker of the Knesset and in charge of the Knesset, I will do my best (to ensure) that no one sector will get hurt, and hopefully everybody will be satisfied,” he said, according to the source. “I don’t want a civil war.”
Carter and Edelstein also discussed the current ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, about which Edelstein said there are “a number of difficulties.”
“As long as we are talking with the Palestinians and nothing goes wrong it is not a bad thing,” he said.
By Gidon Ben-zvi from Johannesburg, December 10, 2013
Knesset Speaker ‘Yuli’ Edelstein at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. Photo: Facebook.
The Israeli Knesset delegation to the funeral of South African President Nelson Mandela was placed in a parliamentary gallery inside of Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium, far removed from where the sitting president of South Africa and such visiting world leaders as President Barack Obama were situated, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported.
The delegation, headed by the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, landed Tuesday morning at the airport in Johannesburg and were immediately shuttled to the stadium in order to attend the funeral.
The Speaker was invited to sit on the main stage, but elected to stay with the other members of the Israeli delegation, Ma’ariv reported.
“It’s very exciting to be here in South Africa. We arrived after a long but pleasant flight and are looking forward to a moving memorial service,”
MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) told a Ma’ariv reporter.
MK Lipman, who heads the Israel-South Africa Friendship Association, added that, “…Nelson Mandela served as an inspiration around the world. [He] realized a vision of liberty and freedom and human rights which is a guiding light for everyone.”
Knesset Members Penina Tamanu-Shata (Yesh Atid), Hilik Bar (Labor), Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) and Gila Gamliel (Likud) comprised the remainder of the Israeli delegation.
Since moving to Israel, Lipman has been a faculty member at a number of institutions for post-high school Torah learning, such as Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah, Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim, Machon Maayan, and Tiferet.
As a member of Yesh Atid, Lipman strongly advocates basic secular education for all schools in Israel wanting to receive government funding. This is also the position of Israel’s Minister of Education, Rabbi Shai Piron. Since taking these controversial positions, Lipman has been publicly shamed by many within the ultra-Orthodox/Haredi world, including his former Rosh Yeshiva and teacher Rabbi Aharon Feldman. Feldman, dean of Baltimore’s Ner Israel Rabbinical College, called Lipman a “wicked” apostate and said his positions on Jewish education do not represent the values taught by the institution from which he received rabbinic ordination.
We wonder if Rabbi Lipman was part of the Edelstein-Carter airport exchange that stirred our interest in the make-up of the Israeli delegation – a State that somehow was not able to get to Johannesburg one of its two main office-holders – President Peres or Prime-Minister Netanyahu.
Bar studied at Bezek College at Givat Mordechai in Jerusalem. He served in the Israeli Defense Force as an officer in Adjutant Corps and reached the rank of captain in the reserves, later studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. From 1998 he served as chairman of the student organization (“Ofek”) of the Labor Party at Hebrew University, chairman of the national student organization of the Labor Party, and Chairman of the World Youth of the World Labour Zionist Movement.
During his public service he completed his BA in political science and international relations and MA in international relations at the Hebrew University. In 2008 he was accepted to the master’s program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, but passed on the opportunity in order to continue his public service.
Since 2002, Bar has been a delegate at the World Zionist Congress and the World Zionist Council. He is actively involved in pro-Israel advocacy and has taken part in advocacy and coexistence missions around the world, in the course of which he met with US PresidentGeorge W. Bush and other senior officials in both the Arab world and the West. In 2003, he was involved in the establishment of the “Young Israeli Forum for Cooperation” (YIFC), an organization whose activity was awarded a special prize by the EU’s Minister of Education. He was six-th on Labor’s list and is making inroads in the party system.
Nitzan Horowitz is a former journalist – he was the Foreign Affairs commentator and head of the International desk at News 10, the news division of Channel 10, before being elected to the Knesset on the left-wing Meretz list in 2009.
He is openly gay and ran for becoming Mayor of Tel Aviv. Before that – In 1989 he started his career at Haaretz, as the Foreign Affairs Editor. He served as “Haaretz” correspondent in Paris (1993–1998), covering also the European Union, and as Haaretz correspondent in Washington D.C. (1998–2001). Back in Israel, Horowitz was the chief foreign affairs columnist for Haaretz.
Horowitz served as a board member of ACRI – the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. He was also active in environmental issues and in 2007 he received the “Pratt Prize” for Environmental Journalism.
In December 2008, he resigned from Channel 10 and became a candidate of the Israeli left-wing party, Meretz in the upcoming elections. He gained the third slot on the joint list of Hatnua Hahadasha (The New Movement) and Meretz. He said “My goal is to continue to do what I have been talking about over the past years, from protecting the seashore to promoting more sophisticated, nonpolluting public transportation”.
Meretz won three seats in the 2009 Israeli elections on February 10, 2009, election,making Horowitz the second openly gay Knesset member in Israeli history. The first, Uzi Even, also was a member of Meretz. On February 16, he announced a plan to bring to the Knesset a bill that would allow marriages or civil unions between two partners regardless of their religion, ethnic background, or gender.
Before being sworn into the Knesset he was told to annul his Polish citizenship, which he was able to attain due to his father’s origins and used as a journalist to enter countries Israelis have a hard time entering.
In 2009, he announced that he would boycott all the events in Pope Benedict XVI‘s visit to Israel, saying that in his opinion, the pope bears a message of “rigidness, religious extremism and imperviousness. Of all the Pope’s injustices, the worst is his objection to disseminating contraceptives in Third World countries. It’s hard to assess how many miserable men and women in Africa, Asia and South America have contracted AIDS because of this Philistine attitude, but we are talking about many”. He also published a two-part opinion piece on Ynetnews explaining his position.
On June 6, 2009, Horowitz addressed a crowd of 1,000 demonstrators in Tel Aviv marking 42 years of the occupation of the West Bank. Horowitz resides in Tel Aviv with his life partner.
For the 1999 elections she was placed 25th on the Likud list, but missed out on a place in the Knesset when the party won only 19 seats. In 2003 she surprisingly won 11th place on the Likud list for the elections that year, ahead of several cabinet ministers. She became a Knesset member when the party won 38 seats, but police decided to open an investigation into the suspected transfer of student funds into a private company.She was also accused of blackmailing a fellow student council member in order to retain the chairmanship of the students’ association of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev at the time.Gamliel denied both accusations. In November 2003 the fraud police decided to stop the investigations against her because of lack of evidence.
About the same time, in June 2003, she and three other Knesset members of Likud were actually banned from the Likud faction for three months because they had been voting against an encroaching plan of Likud in matters of economy. By implementing severe austerities the Likud government was hoping to recover the declining state of Israel’s economy.
During her first term in the Knesset she chaired the committee on the Status of Women, and in March 2005 was appointed Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
However, she missed out on a place on the Likud list for the 2006 elections and lost her seat. Prior to the 2009 elections she won nineteenth place on the party’s list, and returned to the Knesset as Likud won 27 seats. On April 1, 2009 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Gamliel as Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office in his new government, with the portfolio of the Advancement of Young People, Students and Women.
Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, born August 5, 1958 to a Jewish family in the great city Czernowitz in the former Austrian Bukowina, while it was Chernivtsi, Soviet Union, and now is in the Ukraine. Yuli immigrated to Israel in 1987. His parents, Yuri and Anita Edelstein, had converted to Christianity after Yuli’s birth, and his father is today a well-known Russian Orthodox priest and human rights activist in Russia.
Yuli formed his connection to Jewish culture through his grandparents, and he began studying Hebrew.
During his second year at the Chernivtsi university, Edelstein decided to apply for an exit visa and emigrate to Israel. However, an exit visa required an affidavit from relatives abroad, a problem faced by many Soviet Jews. As a result, he made up a story of his grandfather having an illegitimate son in Israel, and found some Israelis who agreed to pose as his relatives. In 1979, he submitted his application for an exit visa. The application was rejected, and Edelstein was expelled from university.
Throughout this period, Edelstein studied Hebrew, first on his own, then with an underground Hebrew teacher named Lev Ulanovsky. After Ulanovsky received an exit visa to Israel in 1979, Edelstein himself became an underground Hebrew teacher. He encountered various forms of harassment from the KGB and local police. In 1984, he and other Hebrew teachers were arrested on trumped-up charges. Edelstein was charged with possession of drugs, and sentenced to three and a half years. He was then sent to Siberian gulags and did hard labor, first in Buryatia and then in Novosibirsk. After sustaining an injury and undergoing surgery, Edelstein was due to be transferred back to Buryatia, but his wife Tanya threatened to go on hunger strike if he was returned there. As a result, he remained in Novosibirsk, and was released in May 1985, after serving one year and eight months of his sentence.
I went to this length of describing the six members of the Israeli Delegation that went to honor the Madiba – there hardly could have been a more RAINBOW type of delegation from Israel and in our opinion – this is a group of people that in their own lives depict how a new Nation , built on secular democratic principles, was built by linking with a common goal people of very different backgrounds. Members of this small group had given up US, Russian, Polish, Ethiopian, Yemenite, Libyan citizenships in order to be able to be part of the secular-jewish Parliament.
We believe they made for a truer representation to the Mandela ethos then had it been that the attention were on a Head-of-State.
December 14, 2013
CAN A country boycott itself? That may sound like a silly question. It is not.
At the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, the “Giant of History” as Barack Obama called him, Israel was not represented by any of its leaders.
The only dignitary who agreed to go was the speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, a nice person, an immigrant from the Soviet Union and a settler, who is so anonymous that most Israelis would not recognize him. (“His own father would have trouble recognizing him in the street,” somebody joked.)
Why? The President of the State, Shimon Peres, caught a malady that prevented him from going, but which did not prevent him from making a speech and receiving visitors on the same day. Well, there are all kinds of mysterious microbes.
The Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, had an even stranger reason. The journey, he claimed, was too expensive, what with all the accompanying security people and so on.
Not so long ago, Netanyahu caused a scandal when it transpired that for his journey to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, a five hour flight, he had a special double bed installed in the El Al plane at great expense. He and his much maligned wife, Sara’le, did not want to provoke another scandal so soon. Who’s Mandela, after all?
ALTOGETHER IT was an undignified show of personal cowardice by both Peres and Netanyahu.
What were they afraid of?
Well, they could have been booed. Recently, many details of the Israeli-South African relationship have come to light. Apartheid South Africa, which was boycotted by the entire world, was the main customer of the Israeli military industry. It was a perfect match: Israel had a lot of weapon systems but no money to produce them, South Africa had lots of money but no one who would supply it with weapons.
So Israel sold Mandela’s jailers everything it could, from combat aircraft to military electronics, and shared with it its nuclear knowledge. Peres himself was deeply involved.
The relationship was not merely commercial. Israeli officers and officials met with their South African counterparts, visits were exchanged, personal friendship fostered. While Israel never endorsed apartheid, our government certainly did not reject it.
Still, our leaders should have been there, together with the leaders of the whole world. Mandela was the Great Forgiver, and he forgave Israel, too. When the master of ceremonies in the stadium mistakenly announced that Peres and Netanyahu had arrived, just a few boos were heard. Far less than the boos for the current South African president.
In Israel, only one voice was openly raised against Mandela. Shlomo Avineri, a respected professor and former Director General of the Foreign Office, criticized him for having a “blind spot” – for taking the Palestinian side against Israel. He also mentioned that another moral authority, Mahatma Gandhi, had the same “blind spot”.
Strange. Two moral giants and the same blind spot? How could that be, one wonders.
THE BOYCOTT movement against Israel is slowly gaining ground. It takes three main forms (and several in between).
The most focused form is the boycott of the products of the settlements, which was started by Gush Shalom 15 years ago. It is active now in many countries.
A more stringent form is the boycott of all institutes and corporations that are dealing with the settlements. This is now the official policy of the European Union. Just this week, Holland broke off relations with the monopolistic Israeli Water Corporation, Mekorot, which plays a part in the policy that deprives Palestinians of essential water supplies and transfers them to the settlements.
The third form is total: the boycott of everything and everyone Israeli (Including myself). This is also slowly advancing in many countries.
The Israeli government has now joined this form. By its voluntary no-representation or under-representation at the Mandela ceremony, it has declared that Israel is a pariah state. Strange.
LAST WEEK I wrote that if the Americans find a solution to Israel’s security concerns in the West Bank, other concerns would take their place. I did not expect that it would happen so quickly.
Binyamin Netanyahu declared this week that stationing Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley, as proposed by John Kerry, is not enough. Not by far.
Israel cannot give up the West Bank as long as Iran has nuclear capabilities, he declared. What’s the connection, one might well ask. Well, it’s obvious. A strong Iran will foster terrorism and threaten Israel in many other ways. So Israel must remain strong, and that includes holding on to the West Bank. Stands to reason.
So if Iran gives up all its nuclear capabilities, will that be enough? Not by a long shot. Iran must completely change its “genocidal” policies vis-à-vis Israel, it must stop all threats and utterances against us, it must adopt a friendly attitude towards us. However, Netanyahu did stop short of demanding that the Iranian leaders join the World Zionist Organization.
Before this happens, Israel cannot possibly make peace with the Palestinians. Sorry, Mister Kerry.
IN THE last article I also ridiculed the Allon Plan and other pretexts advanced by our rightists for holding on to the rich agricultural land of the Jordan Valley.
A friend of mine countered that indeed all the old reasons have become obsolete. The terrible danger of the combined might of Iraq, Syria and Jordan attacking us from the east does not exist anymore. But –
But the valley guardians are now advancing a new danger. If Israel gives back the West Bank without holding on to the Jordan Valley and the border crossings on the river, other terrible things will happen.
The day after the Palestinians take possession of the river crossing, missiles will be smuggled in. Missiles will rain down on Ben-Gurion international airport, the gateway to Israel, located just a few kilometers from the border. Tel Aviv, 25 km from the border, will be threatened, as will the Dimona nuclear installation.
Haven’t we seen this all before? When Israel voluntarily evacuated the whole Gaza Strip, didn’t the rockets start to rain down on the South of Israel?
We cannot possibly rely on the Palestinians. They hate us and will continue to fight us. If Mahmoud Abbas tries to stop it, he will be toppled. Hamas or worse, al-Qaeda, will come to power and unleash a terrorist campaign. Life in Israel will turn into hell.
Therefore it is evident that Israel must control the border between the Palestinian state and the Arab world, and especially the border crossings. As Netanyahu says over and over again, Israel cannot and will not entrust its security to others. Especially not to the Palestinians.
WELL, FIRST of all the Gaza Strip analogy does not hold. Ariel Sharon evacuated the Gaza settlements without any agreement or even consultation with the Palestinian Authority, which was still ruling the Strip at that time. Instead of an orderly transfer to the Palestinian security forces, he left behind a power vacuum which was later filled by Hamas.
Sharon also upheld the land and sea blockade that turned the Strip practically into a huge open-air prison.
In the West Bank there exists now a strong Palestinian government and robust security forces, trained by the Americans. A peace agreement will strengthen them immensely.
Abbas does not object to a foreign military presence throughout the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley. On the contrary, he asks for it. He has proposed an international force, under American command. He just objects to the presence of the Israeli army – a situation that would amount to another kind of occupation.
BUT THE main point is something else, something that goes right to the root of the conflict.
Netanyahu’s arguments presuppose that there will be no peace, not now, not ever. The putative peace agreement – which Israelis call the “permanent status agreement” – will just open another phase of the generations-old war.
This is the main obstacle. Israelis – almost all Israelis – cannot imagine a situation of peace. Neither they, nor their parents and grandparents, have ever experienced a day of peace in this country. Peace is something like the coming of the Messiah, something that has to be wished for, prayed for, but is never really expected to happen.
But peace does not mean, to paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz, the continuation of war by other means. It does not mean a truce or even an armistice.
Peace means living side by side. Peace means reconciliation, a genuine willingness to understand the other side, the readiness to get over old grievances, the slow growth of a new relationship, economic, social, personal.
To endure, peace must satisfy all parties. It requires a situation which all sides can live with, because it fulfills their basic aspirations.
Is this possible? Knowing the other side as well as most, I answer with utmost assurance: Yes, indeed. But it is not an automatic process. One has to work for it, invest in it, wage peace as one wages war.
Nelson Mandela did. That’s why the entire world attended his funeral. That’s, perhaps, why our leaders chose to be absent.
Rezension: Christian Moser [Müller, Jan-Werner (2013): Das demokratische Zeitalter. Eine politische Ideengeschichte Europas im 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, ISBN 9783518585856, Preis: € 41,10]
Politische Ideen bewegen die Menschen
Das 20.Jahrhundert war das Zeitalter der Ideologien. Der deutsche Politologe Jan-Werner Müller definiert Ideologien als Formen eines leidenschaftlichen, mitunter auch fanatischen Glaubens an Ideen und Entwürfe zur Perfektionierung der Gesellschaft. Nach dieser Lesart stiften Ideologien nicht nur Sinn und versprechen innerweltliche Erlösung, sondern manche „politische Religionen“ wie der Nationalsozialismus oder der Kommunismus erheben den Anspruch, einen „neuen Menschen“ erschaffen zu können.
The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, in partnership with
the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect
is organizing a high-level discussion titled
“From Prevention to Protection: the UN Genocide Convention 65 Years On”
Monday, 9 December 2013 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
ECOSOC Chamber, UN Headquarters in New York
The high-level event will mark the 65th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and bring together experts to examine the challenges of genocide prevention today.
Speakers will include:
United Nations Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon;
Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information;
Mr. Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide;
Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court;
Mr. Stuart E. Eizenstat, former Ambassador of the United States to the European Union (1993-1996);
Mrs. María Cristina Perceval, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations;
and Mr. Mustafa Haid, Founder and Executive Director of Dawlaty, a Beirut-based organization which encourages transitional justice in Syria.
The discussion will be moderated by journalist Tunku Varadarajan, Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a columnist with the Daily Beast.
THIS EVENT IS A PRESENTATION AND REMINDER OF THE REAL REASON WHY THE UN WAS CREATED IN THE AFTERMATH OF WORLD WAR II AND THE FRESH MEMORY OF THE HOLOCAUST – THE EXTREME EXAMPLE OF WHAT THE HUMAN BEAST IS CAPABLE OF DOING.
SINCE THEN THE UN ALSO RECOGNIZED IN 1948 ALSO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND THE NEED TO FIGHT GENOCIDE. OTHER HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDED THE DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE PRINCIPLE OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT.
THE UN AS AN INSTITUTION DID NOT LIVE UP TO THE HIGH STANDARDS IT SET TO ITSELF AND GENOCIDE IS PART OF OUR DAILY NEWS – THOUGH NOTHING COMPARES TO WHAT MADMEN ADOLF HITLER AND ADOLF EICHMANN DID.
NEVERTHELESS, PEOPLE LIKE AHMEDI-NEJAD – THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF IRAN AND REGIMES LIKE THE ONGOING ONE THESE DAYS IN SYRIA OF THE ASSADS, WERE CELEBRATED BY THE UN OF TODAY – TO ITS IMMENSE SHAME – OR AT LEAST NOT INTERFERED WITH – SOMETHING WE DO NOT TAKE EASY AS WE ALSO CANNOT ACCEPT THE UN INACTION WHEN IT COMES TO THE EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING/CLIMATE CHANGE. THE FACT THAT THE HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES OF THE UN ARE LOADED WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF COUNTRIES THAT DO NOT KNOW HUMAN RIGHTS MAKES THIS DECEMBER 9-TH ASSEMBLY AT THE UN THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT OF THE YEAR. PLEASE SEE THIS POSTING OF OURS AS AN EXPRESSION OF SUPPORT OF THE UN OF OLD.
ALSO PLEASE NOTE THAT UN SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON WILL BE VISITING THE ETERNAL MUSEUM AT THE AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU HOLOCAUST EXTERMINATION CAMP ON NOVEMBER 18-TH WHEN HE PARTICIPATES AT THE ONGOING CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE IN WARSAW, AND THE MEMORY OF THE KRYSTALLNACHT OF NOVEMBER 9, 1938 JUST A MERE 75 YEARS AGO. WE BET HE WILL HAVE CONTENT IN HIS PRESENTATION AT THE DECEMBER 9TH EVENT AT THE UN.
WILL THE NATIONS OF THE UN LISTEN – OR WILL THEY SWAT THIS AS INTERFERENCE WITH WHAT THEY SEE AS POTENTIAL NARROW GAINS – LIKE REACHING OUT FOR THE RICHES THAT BECOMES REACHABLE WHEN THE ICE OF THE POLAR ICE CAPS MELT AWAY?
So, still hanging on to the Copenhagen COP15 of 2009 as last meeting that had substance – that is when newly elected President Obama went to Beijing and brought to the meeting the first signs that China is joining the World that tries to be serious about Climate Change – our website expects that finally at Paris, in 2015, there will be something new to report. We intend to be there!
The upcoming two weeks will see all usual traveling itinerants gather upon Warsaw. We will not go but recommend unfccc.int/2860.php as the information link for these two weeks – November 11-23, 2013.
Thanks to Mairi Dupar of the UK we learn the following – “Climate finance negotiations at COP19 in Warsaw” to be matter of substance:
This new Guide provides negotiators with a synopsis of the key climate finance discussions undertaken during 2013 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Guide aims to inform negotiators and stakeholders who are interested in the different climate finance agenda items and deliverables at the 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) to be held in Warsaw. It assesses possible outcomes in Warsaw that can prepare the way – together with decisions at COP20 in 2014 – for the new global agreement on climate change, which will be agreed at the COP in Paris in 2015.
So, after the UN as a whole is compelled to enter the post 2015 stage, whatever becomes available at the UN in 2015 becomes norm that is basis for new UNFCCC agreements and it would be ridiculous to expect anything before that. This is why we will introduce in 2015 in our website the new category COP21 of the UNFCCC to follow on our present COP15 category. Sorry – but this is realism. We expect that by that time SE4All will be fully functional and have taken over the goals that once were part of the Commission for Sustainable Development that was eradicated and declared non-functioning at the RIO + 20 ei2 meeting.
In November the next UN Conference of Parties on climate change (COP19) will meet in Warsaw. There is an enormous amount of work to do in Poland and subsequently if we are going to get a global, legally binding agreement on carbon emissions that we committed to achieve at COP21 in Paris in 2015.
In particular we need to set the political parameters around which a deal can be built.
The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, published in September, reinforced the need for a more urgent and effective response to climate change. The 2015 deal remains the most effective way of putting us back on track to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees or less.
I was delighted to see the OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría showing leadership on this issue with a major climate change speech last week at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change in London. My old boss Lord Stern chaired the event in which the Secretary-General denounced the lack of progress towards achieving climate security.
The framing of the speech was essentially that we have a much clearer understanding of climate risk than before, yet have done far too little to tackle it, and – unlike the financial sector – do not have a bailout option. The Secretary-General said policies need to be significantly more ambitious (e.g. on achieving a carbon price), coherent (with wider economic policies and goals) and consistent (with government providing better long-term policy certainty).
I was pleased to hear him pledge to make carbon pricing and other environmental policies key elements of the OECD Economic Surveys that assess countries’ comparative economic performance, and promise that the OECD would be closely monitoring countries’ performance in these areas up to 2015 and beyond. Those are significant steps.
The IEA put out complementary analysis in its ‘Redrawing the Energy Map’ in June, including accelerating the phasing-out of subsidies to fossil-fuel consumption, and better systems of protection against energy poverty which do not entrench a reliance on emissions-intensive consumption. And for many years the IEA World Energy Outlook’s Alternative Policy Scenarios have shown we are off-track from achieving sustainable energy policies.
It seems to me that the OECD and IEA’s strong environmental policy messages are even more powerful coming as they do from primarily economic and energy organisations. It helps to reinforce the message that action on climate can be good for the economy and good for energy security.
Both institutions know that, like national governments, they must continue do more to strengthen their message and get their own house in order. The OECD must align its economic, environmental and social policy advice to be consistent and mutually reinforcing. We should be able to move away from talking about ‘green’ policy to simply ‘good’ policy.
I know the IEA is also working hard to ensure it tackles energy and climate security as two sides of the same coin.
After all, following the Secretary-General’s speech in London, Lord Stern, author of the seminal Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, reiterated that we had no choice but to act on all these fronts. And that a focus on innovative solutions could usher in decades of prosperity: “this is a growth story, not a costs story”.
For its part, the UK will continue to meet its own ambitious and legally-binding emissions targets and carbon budgets, reform the energy sector to achieve energy and climate security, and play a leading role in an ambitious EU programme of economic and environmental transformation.
Meanwhile we will continue to be vocal supporters of the OECD and IEA on these issues as they work together to present the most compelling analysis and pragmatic policy solutions to governments. There is very little time ahead of the big 2015 meeting in Paris.
(Warsaw, 11 November 2013) – The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw
began today with calls for governments to harness the strong groundswell of
action on climate change across all levels of government, business and
society and make real progress here towards a successful, global climate
change agreement in 2015.
The President of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19/CMP 9), is
H. E. Mr. Marcin Korolec, Poland’s Environment Minister. He said in his
opening address that climate change is a global problem that must be turned
further into a global opportunity. “It’s a problem if we can’t coordinate our actions. It becomes opportunity where we can act together. One country or even a group cannot make a difference. But acting together, united as we are here, we can do it.”
In her opening speech at the Warsaw National Stadium, the venue of COP 19, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called on delegates to “win the Warsaw opportunity” in order to safeguard present and future generations.
“We must stay focused, exert maximum effort for the full time and produce a positive result, because what happens in this stadium is not a game. There are not two sides, but the whole of humanity. There are no winners and losers, we all either win or lose in the future we make for ourselves.”
Ms. Figueres pointed to the sobering realities of climate change and the rise in extreme events that climate science has long predicted, including the devastating Typhoon Haiyan that just hit the Philippines, one of the most powerful typhoons ever to make landfall.
Ms. Figueres highlighted the key areas in which COP 19 can make progress:
“We must clarify finance that enables the entire world to move towards low-carbon development. We must launch the construction of a mechanism that helps vulnerable populations to respond to the unanticipated effects of climate change. We must deliver an effective path to pre-2020 ambition, and develop further clarity for elements of the new agreement that will shape the post-2020 global climate, economic and development agendas”.
In addition, the meeting in Warsaw will focus on decisions that will make fully operational the new institutional support under the UNFCCC for developing nations in finance, adaptation and technology. These are the Green Climate Fund, the Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Committee, all agreed in Cancun in 2010.
Ms. Figueres stressed the fact that the meeting in Warsaw is taking place against the background of growing awareness that climate change is real and accelerating, and the growing willingness of people, businesses and governments to take climate action, at all levels of society and policy.
“There is a groundswell of climate action. Not only for environmental reasons, but also for security, energy, economic and governance reasons. Political will and public support favour action now. A new universal climate agreement is within our reach. Agencies, development banks, investors and subnational governments are on board. The science from the IPCC is clear. Parties can lead the momentum for change and move together towards success in 2015.“
Präsident der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Außenpolitik und die Vereinten Nationen (ÖGAVN)
lädt sehr herzlich zur nächsten Veranstaltung im Rahmen des “Internationalen Clubs” ein:
Mittwoch, 13. November2013, 12:00 Uhr
Dr. Johannes MEIER
Direktor der European Climate Foundation
zum Thema (in deutscher Sprache ohne Übersetzung):
“The End of Business-As-Usual?”
A-1010 Wien, Reitschulgasse 2/2. OG
Es gilt die “Chatham House Rule”: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed”.
Der Club ist von 11:00 bis 15:00 Uhr geöffnet. Das Referat beginnt um 12:00 Uhr pünktlich, bitte kommen Sie zeitgerecht.
Die Diskussion mit dem Vortragenden ist bis 13:30 Uhr vorgesehen.