We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to: Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: email@example.com
The Dangerous Divided Jerusalem Fantasy: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, May 28, 2014— On this date in the Hebrew calendar 47 years ago, Israeli forces ended the division of Jerusalem.
One Country Saved Its Jews. Were They Just Better People?: Michael Ignatieff, New Republic, Dec 12, 2013— This magnificent book states its central argument in its title. Danish Jews survived Hitler’s rule in World War II, when other European Jews did not, because Danes regarded their Jewish neighbors as countrymen.
Obama’s Ad Hoc Foreign Policy: Charles Krauthammer, National Review, May 29, 2014— It is fitting that the day before President Obama gives his grand West Point address defending the wisdom and prudence of his foreign policy, his government should be urging Americans to evacuate Libya.
Yom Yerushalayim: Reunification of a People and a Past: Israel Forever Foundation, Jewish Press, May 28, 2014
Jerusalem Day: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2014
The Holocaust's Foremost Unsung Hero: Emily Amrousi, Israel Hayom, Apr. 27, 2014
At West Point, President Obama Binds America’s Hands on Foreign Affairs: Washington Post, May 28, 2014
Cadets Not Excited With Obama Speech; Media United Against President: Joseph R. Carducci, Downtrend, May 29, 2014
Jonathan S. Tobin Commentary, May 28, 2014
On this date in the Hebrew calendar 47 years ago, Israeli forces ended the division of Jerusalem. The city had been split during the Arab siege of the capital in 1948 and it remained cut in half by an ugly wall as well as by dangerous no-man’s-land zones. The victory in the Six-Day War ended an illegal occupation of the eastern portion of the city as well as the walled Old City by Jordan that had lasted for 19 years but was not recognized by the world. In breaking down the barriers, the Israelis not only reunited the city but opened access to its religious shrines—including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount—which had been off limits for Jews during the Jordanian occupation. But as Israelis celebrated what is known as “Jerusalem Day” today, support for the push to reinstate the division of the city in the international community has grown. Every Middle East peace plan proposed in the last 15 years, including the three Israeli offers of statehood that the Palestinians turned down, included a new partition of Jerusalem even though both sides remain murky about how that could be accomplished without reinstating the warlike atmosphere that prevailed before June 1967.
But for those who believe that such a partition is essential to peace, the process by which a city that has grown exponentially in the last five decades, with Jews and Arabs no longer neatly divided by a wall, could be split is merely a matter of details. To fill in the blanks for its readers, Ha’aretz published a Jerusalem Day feature that provided the answer to the question. Highlighting a complicated scheme put forward by a Jerusalem architectural firm, the paper asserted that most Jerusalemites wouldn’t even notice the difference if their city was re-partitioned. On the surface the plan, which has been funded by a variety of left-wing sources, seems practical if complicated and expensive. But it is not only completely unrealistic; it is based on a fantasy that the real problem in Jerusalem is primarily one of engineering, aesthetics, and logistics. Like every other element of other utopian peace plans that are sold to both the Israeli and Western publics as the solution that “everybody knows” must eventually happen, this vision of Jerusalem ignores the fundamental problem of peace: the fact that the Palestinians don’t want it.
The conceit of the divided Jerusalem scheme is that the old “green line” that once cut through the city as well as the West Bank is alive and well. Since the second intifada, Jews largely avoid Arab sectors of the city and Arabs do the same in Jewish sections. The only problem then is how to “soften” the appearance of a division so as to codify the reality of a divided city without actually reinstating the ugly and perilous military fortifications that served as the front lines for the Arab-Israeli wars from 1949 to 1967. There is some truth to the notion that Jerusalem is currently divided in this manner. But it is a fallacy to assert that it is anything as absolute as the authors of the plan and their media cheerleaders claim. Contrary to the notion popularized by the terminology used by the media, there is no real east or west Jerusalem. The city is built on hills with much of the “eastern” section actually in the north and south where Jewish neighborhoods on the other side of the green line have existed for over 40 years. The idea that this can all be easily sorted out by handing out the Jewish sections to Israel and the Arab ones to “Palestine” won’t work.
It is a falsehood to assert that 40 percent of Jerusalemites can’t vote in municipal elections. Residents of Arab neighborhoods could vote but don’t. If they did participate they would hold real power, but for nationalist reasons they choose to boycott the democratic process and the result is that they have been shortchanged. While current Mayor Nir Barkat opposes division of the city, he has rightly argued that Israel has to do better in serving Arab neighborhoods because with sovereignty comes responsibility. But what the plan’s authors also leave out of the equation is that a division would deprive many of these same Arabs of their employment and health coverage since a great number work on the Israeli side or get their medical treatment there. Will they give that up for Palestine? Just as when the security barrier was erected, many Arabs will clamor to stay on the Israeli side of any divide for obvious reasons.
Left unsaid in the piece is the fact that there are actually a number of interlocked Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. Nor does it explain how the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus (which was isolated as a Jewish enclave during the Jordanian occupation) could be reached from what they propose to be Israeli Jerusalem or how Jerusalemites could access the scenic Sherover/Haas promenade in the city. And those are just a few of the anomalies that go unsolved or unanswered in a scheme that treats transportation patterns and border security as if they were mere blots on the map rather than avoidable facts. There’s also no mention here about how security in this intricately divided city could be administered. Would Israelis really be prepared to cede the security of their capital to foreign forces? Could peace monitors be relied upon to respect Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods if they become, after peace, the object of a new intifada whose purpose would be to chip away at the rump of the Jewish state?…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
New Republic, Dec. 14, 2014
This magnificent book states its central argument in its title. Danish Jews survived Hitler’s rule in World War II, when other European Jews did not, because Danes regarded their Jewish neighbors as countrymen. There was no “us” and “them;” there was just us. When, in October 1943, the Gestapo came to round up the 7,500 Jews of Copenhagen, the Danish police did not help them to smash down the doors. The churches read letters of protest to their congregations. Neighbors helped families to flee to villages on the Baltic coast, where local people gave them shelter in churches, basements, and holiday houses and local fishermen loaded up their boats and landed them safely in neutral Sweden. Bo Lidegaard, the editor of the leading Danish newspaper Politiken, has retold this story using astonishingly vivid unpublished material from families who escaped, and the testimony of contemporary eyewitnesses, senior Danish leaders (including the king himself), and even the Germans who ordered the roundups. The result is an intensely human account of one episode in the persecution of European Jews that ended in survival.
The story may have ended well, but it is a complex tale. The central ambiguity is that the Germans warned the Jews and let most of them escape. Lidegaard claims this was because the Danes refused to help the Germans, but the causation might also have worked in the other direction. It was when the Danes realized that the Germans were letting some Jews go that they found the courage to help the rest of their Jewish community escape. Countrymen is a fascinating study in the ambiguity of virtue. The Danes knew long before the war that their army could not resist a German invasion. Instead of overtly criticizing Hitler, the Social Democratic governments of the 1930s sought to inoculate their populations against the racist ideology next door. It was in those ominous years that the shared identity of all Danes as democratic citizens was drummed into the political culture, just in time to render most Danes deeply resistant to the Nazi claim that there existed a “Jewish problem” in Denmark. Lidegaard’s central insight is that human solidarity in crisis depended on the prior consolidation of a decent politics, on the creation of a shared political imagination. Some Danes did harbor anti-Semitic feelings, but even they understood the Jews to be members of a political community, and so any attack on them was an attack on the Danish nation as such.
The nation in question was imagined in civic terms rather than ethnic terms. What mattered was a shared commitment to democracy and law, not a common race or religion. We can see this in the fact that Danish citizens did not defend several hundred communists who were interned and deported by the Danish government for denouncing the Danish monarchy and supporting the Hitler-Stalin pact. The Danes did nothing to defend their own communists, but they did stand up for the Jews.
The Danish response to the Nazis illuminates a crucial fact about the Holocaust: the Germans did not always force the issue of extermination where they faced determined resistance from occupied populations. In Bulgaria, as Tzvetan Todorov has shown in his aptly titled book The Fragility of Goodness, the Jews were saved because the king of Bulgaria, the Orthodox Church, and a few key Bulgarian politicians refused to assist the German occupiers. Why did a similar civic sense of solidarity not take root in other countries? In Holland, why did 80 percent of Dutch Jews perish? And what about France: why did liberty, equality, and fraternity not apply to the citizens driven from their homes by French police and sent to deportation and death? These questions become harder to answer in the light of the Danish and Bulgarian counterexamples. One possible explanation is that the German occupation’s presence in Denmark was lighter than in either France or Holland. The Danes, like the Bulgarians, kept their king and maintained their own government throughout the occupation. Self-government gave them a capacity to defend Jews that was never possible in the occupied zones of France or Holland.
Both the Danish king and the Danish government decided that their best hope of maintaining Denmark’s sovereignty lay in cooperating but not collaborating with the German occupiers. This “cooperation” profited some Danes but shamed many others. The Danish population harbored ancestral hostility to the Germans, and the occupation reinforced these feelings. The Germans, for their part, put up with this frigid relationship: they needed Danish food, and Danish cooperation freed up German military resources for battle on the Eastern Front, and the Nazis wanted to be liked. They wanted their “cooperative” relationship with Denmark to serve as a model for a future European community under Hitler’s domination. From very early on in this ambiguous relationship, the Danes, from the king on down, made it clear that harming the Jews would bring cooperation to an end and force the Germans to occupy the country altogether. The king famously told his prime minister, in private, that if the Germans forced the Danish Jews to wear a yellow star, then he would wear one too. Word of the royal position went public and even led to a myth that the king had actually ridden through the streets of Copenhagen on horseback wearing a yellow star on his uniform. The king never did wear a star. He didn’t have to wear one, because, thanks to his opposition, the Germans never imposed such a regulation in Denmark.
Then, in late summer in 1943, the order came down from Eichmann to the local German authorities in Copenhagen that they had to rid the city of its Jews, these authorities faced a dilemma. They knew that the Danish politicians, police, and media—that Danish society as a whole—would resist and that, once the cooperation of the Danes had been lost, the Germans would have to run the country themselves. The Germans in Copenhagen were also beginning to have second thoughts about the war itself. By then the German armies had been defeated at Stalingrad. While the Gestapo in Poland and Eastern Europe faced the prospect of defeat by accelerating the infernal rhythm of extermination in the death camps, the Gestapo in Denmark began to look for a way out. The local Gauleiter, a conniving opportunist named Werner Best, did launch the roundup of the Jews, but only after letting the Jewish community find out in advance what was coming, giving them time to escape. He did get his hands on some people in an old-age home and dispatch them to Theresienstadt, but all but 1 percent of the Jewish community escaped his clutches. It is an astonishing number.
When Adolf Eichmann came to Copenhagen in 1943 to find out why so many Jews had escaped, he did not cashier the local Gestapo. Instead he backed down and called off the deportations of Danes who were half-Jewish or married to Jews. Lidegaard’s explanation for Eichmann’s volte face is simply that the institutions of Danish society all refused to go along. And without their cooperation, a Final Solution in Denmark became impossible. Totalitarianism, not to mention ethnic cleansing and ethnic extermination, always requires a great deal of collaboration. When they got wind of German plans in September 1943, the Danish government resigned, and no politician agreed to serve in a collaborationist government with the Germans thereafter. After the roundups of Jews were announced, leading Danish politicians of different parties issued a joint statement declaring, “The Danish Jews are an integral part of the people, and therefore all the people are deeply affected by the measures taken, which are seen as a violation of the Danish sense of justice.” This is the political culture of “countrymen” with which Lidegaard explains the extraordinary determination—and success—of the Danes in protecting their Jewish population…
When the Germans arrived to begin the deportations, Jews had already been warned—in their synagogues—and they simply vanished into the countryside, heading for the coast to seek a crossing to neutral Sweden. There was little or no Jewish communal organization and no Danish underground to help them. What ensued was a chaotic family-by-family flight, made possible simply because ordinary members of Danish society feigned ignorance when Germans questioned them, while sheltering families in seaside villages, hotels, and country cottages. Danish police on the coast warned hiding families when the Gestapo came to call, and signaled all-clear so that boats bearing Danish Jews could slip away to Sweden. The fishermen who took the Danish Jews across the Baltic demanded huge sums for the crossing, but managed to get their frightened fellow citizens to safety. When the Gestapo did seize Jewish families hiding in the church of the small fishing village of Gilleleje, the people were so outraged that they banded together to assist others to flee. One villager even confronted the local Gestapo officer, shining a flashlight in his face and exclaiming: “The poor Jews!” When the German replied, “It is written in the Bible that this shall be their fate,” the villager unforgettably replied: “But it is not written that it has to happen in Gilleleje.”
Why did the Danes behave so differently from most other societies and populations in occupied Europe? For a start, they were the only nation where escape to a safe neutral country lay across a narrow strait of water. Moreover, they were not subject to exterminatory pressure themselves. They were not directly occupied, and their leadership structures from the monarch down to the local mayors were not ripped apart. The newspapers in Copenhagen were free enough to report the deportations and thus to assist any Jews still not in the know to flee. The relatively free circulation of information also made it impossible for non-Jewish Danes to claim, as so many Germans did, that “of this we had no knowledge.” Most of all, Denmark was a small, homogeneous society, with a stable democracy, a monarchy that commanded respect, and a shared national hostility to the Germans. Denmark offers some confirmation of Rousseau’s observation that virtue is most easily fostered in small republics…
Countrymen is a story about a little country that did the right thing for complicated reasons, and got away with it for equally complicated reasons. It is a story that reinforces an old truth: solidarity and decency depend on a dense tissue of connection among people, on long-formed habits of the heart, on resilient cultures of common citizenship, and on leaders who marshal these virtues by their example. In Denmark, this dense tissue bound human beings together and indirect rule made it impossible for the Germans to rip it apart. Elsewhere in Europe, by contrast, it was destroyed in stages, first by ghettoizing and isolating the Jewish people and then by insulating bystanders from the full horror of Nazi intentions. Once Jews had been stripped of citizenship, property, rights, and social existence—once they could appeal only to the common humanity of persecutors and bystanders alike—it was too late.
There is a sobering message in Lidegaard’s tale for the human rights era that came after these abominations. If a people come to rely for their protection on human rights alone, on the mutual recognition of common humanity, they are already in serious danger. The Danish story seems to tell us that it is not the universal human chain that binds peoples together in extremity, but more local and granular ties: the particular consciousness of time, place, and heritage that led a Danish villager to stand up to the Gestapo and say no, it will not happen here, not in our village. This extraordinary story of one small country has resonance beyond its Danish context. Countrymen should be read by anyone seeking to understand what precise set of shared social and political understandings can make possible, in times of terrible darkness, acts of civil courage and uncommon decency.
National Review, May 29, 2014
It is fitting that the day before President Obama gives his grand West Point address defending the wisdom and prudence of his foreign policy, his government should be urging Americans to evacuate Libya. Libya, of course, was once the model Obama intervention — the exquisitely calibrated military engagement wrapped in the rhetorical extravagance of a nationally televised address proclaiming his newest foreign-policy doctrine (they change to fit the latest ad hoc decision): the responsibility to protect, or R2P. You don’t hear R2P bandied about much anymore. Not with more than 50,000 civilians having been slaughtered in Syria’s civil war, unprotected in any way by the United States. Nor for that matter do you hear much about Libya, now so dangerously chaotic and jihadi-infested that the State Department is telling Americans to get out. And you didn’t hear much of anything in the West Point speech. It was a somber parade of straw men, as the president applauded himself for steering the nation on a nervy middle course between extreme isolationism and madcap interventionism. It was the rhetorical equivalent of that classic national-security joke in which the presidential aide, devoted to policy option X, submits the following decision memo: Option 1. All-out nuclear war…Option 2. Unilateral surrender…Option 3. Policy X.
The isolationism of Obama’s telling is a species not to be found anywhere. Not even Rand Paul would withdraw from everywhere. And even members of Congress’s dovish Left have called for sending drones to Nigeria, for God’s sake. As for Obama’s interventionists, they are grotesquely described as people “who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak” while Obama courageously refuses to believe that “every problem has a military solution.” Name one person who does.
“Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force?” Obama recently and plaintively asked about Ukraine. In reality, nobody is. What actual earthlings are eager for is sending military assistance to Ukraine’s woefully equipped forces. That’s what the interim prime minister asked for when he visited here in March — and was denied. Two months later, military assistance was the first thing Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s newly elected president, said he wanted from the United States. Note: not boots on the ground.
Same for Syria. It was Obama, not his critics, who went to the brink of a military strike over the use of chemical weapons. From which he then flinched. Critics have been begging Obama to help train and equip the outmanned and outgunned rebels — a policy to which he now intimates he might finally be coming around. Three years late. Qusair, Homs, and major suburbs of Damascus have already been retaken by the government. The battle has by now so decisively tilted toward Assad — backed by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, while Obama dithered — that Assad is holding triumphal presidential elections next week.
Amid all this, Obama seems unaware of how far his country has fallen. He attributes claims of American decline to either misreading history or partisan politics. Problem is: Most of the complaints are coming from abroad, from U.S. allies with no stake whatsoever in U.S. partisan politics. Their concern is their own security as they watch this president undertake multiple abdications from Warsaw to Kabul. What is the world to think when Obama makes the case for a residual force in Afghanistan – “after all the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains that you have helped to win” — and then announces a drawdown of American forces to 10,000, followed by total liquidation within two years on a fixed timetable regardless of circumstances?
The policy contradicts the premise. If you want not to forfeit our terribly hard-earned gains — as we forfeited all our gains in Iraq with the 2011 withdrawal — why not let conditions dictate the post-2014 drawdowns? Why go to zero — precisely by 2016? For the same reason, perhaps, that the Afghan surge was ended precisely in 2012, in the middle of the fighting season — but before the November election. A 2016 Afghan end date might help Democrats electorally and, occurring with Obama still in office, provide a shiny new line to his résumé. Is this how a great nation decides matters of war and peace — to help one party and polish the reputation of one man? As with the West Point speech itself, as with the president’s entire foreign policy of retreat, one can only marvel at the smallness of it all.
“Dear Fred…I had a high opinion of Barry Rubin, and was sorry to hear of his death at a relatively early age. I also liked and approve of your obituary essay. You presented a case that I would like to see given proper attention by Gentiles as well as Jews, conservatives and liberals. Power to your arm. Best Wishes,
—Neil (Feb. 8, 2014)
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—Ken (Mar. 10, 2014)
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—Steven Emerson, Executive Director, The Investigative Project on Terrorism (May 14, 2014)
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Yom Yerushalayim: Reunification of a People and a Past: Israel Forever Foundation, Jewish Press, May 28, 2014—There has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem, and our connection to and passion for the city has been preserved as a memory by Jewish people around the world.
Jerusalem Day: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2014—In the spirit of Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, I would like to share with you a remarkable sermon I have just come across, which was delivered by my late father-in- law, Rabbi Israel Porush, at the Great Synagogue in Sydney one year after the Six Day War.
The Holocaust's Foremost Unsung Hero: Emily Amrousi, Israel Hayom, Apr. 27, 2014—In 1986, a 78-year-old man named Moshe Kraus died in Jerusalem. You probably don't recognize the name. He was never commemorated in any way.
At West Point, President Obama Binds America’s Hands on Foreign Affairs: Washington Post, May 28, 2014 —President Obama has retrenched U.S. global engagement in a way that has shaken the confidence of many U.S. allies and encouraged some adversaries.
Cadets Not Excited With Obama Speech; Media United Against President: Joseph R. Carducci, Downtrend, May 29, 2014
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