Global Politics

Iran, Iran

Boker Tov,

when I went through my blog roll yesterday I noticed with delight that a lot of the old sites are still going strong. The other thing I noted, however, was how all of my former Iranian links have now gone private and password-protected (not that there were ever too many in the first place).

Frankly, it sent a little bit of a shiver down my spine and acted as a reminder, much as Yana did to the Pagan community in regards to Syria early last year, that nothing is well in Iran.
Last time I was in Israel was last May and I remember it being a particularly tense time in the ongoing conflict, really almost a cold war, with Iran. I was travelling north on my own this time and I remember vividly how vulnerable I felt. It is a completely different story whether you are surrounded by well-informed Israeli friends discussing the latest at the dinner table on a daily basis or whether you have just been out of touch with everyone and everything for years and are stuck in a bed-and-breakfast led by and filled with clueless tourists in a town you don’t know. You don’t know whether the helicopters patrolling the beach are just the normal drill or whether it’s a more short interval patrol. They say knowledge is power and last May that definitely prove to be quite true for me; without the knowledge that used to shield me when I was living in Israel full time I felt very vulnerable to the situation completely out of my control.

Anyway, Iran. It’s a country that has started to fascinate me increasingly over the years, so rich in culture and history yet with such a tragic past. It seems to be, in the end, one of a long succession of states driven into ongoing chaos by US “world supremacy” diplomacy of the 20th Century and is now in what seems to be a headlock of extremism. It’s so easy to see them just as “the enemy” willing to bomb the people and places you love with nukes just because … well, because they can, I guess. It’s easy to see Ahmadinejad (who was in charge back in my day when I was following Middle East politics more closely) as some kind of Persian Adolf Hitler too. The truth, however is never quite that easy or easy to grasp.

It was around the time of the Obama elections that I had a little conversation with one of the Tehran-based bloggers now gone private blog about Ahmadinejad and how people would possibly vote for him. She made a point of comparing his charisma to that of Obama, especially to a people desperate by years of sanctions, oppression and poverty. And in doing so she opened a tiny window for me into what people in Tehran are thinking and why they are acting the way the do. Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed our conversations, some via our blogs and some via email, she never deviated from Ahmadinejad’s line when it came to the Evil Zionists of Israel. I never found out whether that was for fear or her truly buying into it.

So what about that new guy, Hassan Rohani, people that know I keep an eye on Middle East politics keep asking me. I know for most of the folks with a strong connection to Israel the question is easy to answer and most see Rohani as not much but a new face of the same old story, more fine-lined to confuse the West this time so they can eventually duck out of their sanctions. Me, I am not always certain about it. Maybe he is, I wouldn’t rule it out. But then I think if something is to be learnt from the now nearing-its-end presidency of Barak Obama (and here again I know people will disagree with me) it is how hard it is even for a man that entered presidency with the noblest of plans to achieve anything at all if he finds himself in a nation-sized political deadlock. I cannot help but think that if Rohani was who he claims to be and if the extremist-induced political deadlock is only half that of the United States of America the situation would probably be looking exactly like what we have been seeing since he took up presidency. So yes, I think there is a chance he may be sincere and there is a chance that things may go up stream for Iran and, eventually, the relationship to Israel.

On the other hand, though, this has not diminished that lingering fear in the back of my head that one day, without much of a warning, someone in Iran will push a button and the aftermath will see places and people I love reduced to ashes, a mushroom cloud for a monument. Not just because I am all but certain about the intentions of Hassan Rohani to create a more peaceful Iran but even more for knowing that even if he is sincere there is not much stopping the ultra-religious would-be martyrs that obviously cover high political functions with lots of power from taking over over at the blink of an eye.

It really is a mess of a situation to be in for all involved parties. Even if politics weren’t as corrupted as they are, even if I had any trust whatsoever left in the doings of the United Nations it would be. How do you offer a nation that may be willing to change a hand in peace when you have to be aware of the possibility that someone else is pushing the button just as you sit and negotiate? On the other hand if you do not reach out to them now that there is willingness to talk you will inadvertently give fuel to the ultra-extremists in confirming everything they have been preaching about the West for decades. It seems like either way you can only loose. And that is if we were living in a perfect world, which we are most definitely not. In the real world there is nobody sincerely interested in the fate of Iran or Israel or any other of the Middle Eastern countries at those negotiating tables; You are lucky if their interest is limited to polishing their respective country and party’s image as peace doves rather than more personal economic intentions.

If you ever try to understand what is happening in the Middle East imagine your own country’s political parties and how they would be inconsolable on whatever is a politically charged matter in your country at the moment. Now add the temperament and the high stakes of Middle Eastern politics to that. Voilá, there is your very own home-brewed Middle Eastern mess.

– Migdalit

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Syria: How to Survive a Revolution

According to Austrian Newspaper der Standard this document has been handed to Syrian Politologist  Radwan Ziadeh of George Washington University by unknown sources from the Syrian Government.

Syria: How to Survive a Revolution

It basically details how for the current Syrian Government on how to avoid a politican situation that is sliding more and more towards what we have been seeing in Egypt and Tunisia lately. No matter what its real source might be – I have no means of confirming this with other sources – it certainly makes brilliant, and also rather horrifying reading, especially if you take into account developments in Syria.

Pessakh Sameakh from Australia

Migdalit

Tidbits

Following the news these days I can’t help but wonder: Is history really repeating right in front of our eyes?

I mean … everybody does know what we’re facing during the years, probably decades to come. Thinking about it now everybody did know back then, when I was a child. Back then “in the old days”, the air was full of sorrow for our generation whom everybody believed to have to pay the bills in the end. They did know just too well how little perspectives where there for us and in what kind of a run down world we would have to life.

A good twenty years have passed by since the demonstrations and the mourning of my childhood. Another good ten years since my generation rose to their feet – and failed in being completely ignored by those in charge. And during all these decades, deep inside, we’ve all known what was going to happen. Our parents as well as us self.  We knew that the world we were living in wasn’t going to stay like this forever; that my generation would come to live in a gravely changed, newly shaped world. We knew that the fat years had come and ended and the years to come would be the meager ones. We all knew but we didn’t speak up – neither us nor our parents – probably being in a horrifying state of denial hoping that, in the end, a miracle would rescue us.

Do you know the famous quote by Martin Niemoller on the Third Reich?

“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Don’t we see just the same these days with social group after social group sliding out of a independent life into complete dependency on state aid and/or total dependency on the one job they have and possibly the only one they can get?

They first came for the unemployed, and we didn’t speak up because we weren’t unemployed.

Then they came for the leased labourers, and we didn’t speak up because we weren’t a leased labourer.

Then they came for middle class entrepreneurs, and we didn’t speak up because we weren’t an middle class entrepreneur.

Then they came for the recent graduates, and we didn’t speak up because we weren’t a recent graduates.

When they come for us , who will be there to speak up?

In fact, I think, our parents are our only hope. Those, who are, or will soon be retired. Those who have used their life’s work and the resources we now lack to build up stable finances, networks, a good home and some true friends. Since it’s them, who can speak up; it’s them who are not yet dependent on those we need to speak up against. It’s strange but it need to be the same networks and the same people that have led to the current situation that we now need to stand up for us, for the generation who has seen little but loss during their lifes; loss of hopes, loss of independence, loss of the whole worth living around us.

I know, from deep within, that we can still turn all of this around; that we can build a world worth living in again – together. All of us have learned our lessons, even though some are in denial – but I bet deep within they do know, they have learned.

yours,

Migdalit

What if …

He guys,

At some point, while people kept telling me the ever-same stories of how the Global Economic Crisis had screwed up their careers and lifes in 2009 I had a dream. A dream of what if …

It is true: We, as the Middle European Society, have reached a point, on which I suppose none with brains in his head, can seriously object that screwed the future of our children. Sometimes it hunts me in my sleep: How could it have come that far? Where was the point at which people stopped giving a crap about their children’s future? Don’t those stupid, white-haired men get it, that someone elses nameless successor that inherits a mess instead of a company is their own child?

This is, however, an important, perhaps even unique point about what is going on at the moment: The Global Economic Crisis, alongside with the “Generation Internship” employment policy, that has been around for some years now, strikes the whole Millennial Generation – or at least the part of it that went to college – no matter what their social descend and who their parents are. Even the most influential people in my hometown, who up to some years ago snipped their fingers to get somebody into a good career, can’t fix as much as a simple job for their children anymore. Sure, networking helps, as has it done before, but comparing the “before” of a given group to the current situation every group belonging to the late Generation X / Millennial had to suffer during the last years. There is a reason why, for years now, surveys have shown that young people don’t believe they’ll be able to reach their parent’s standard of life, whilst for the Babyboomers it had been a given that they’d trump their parents.

But what if …

What if, even though the white-haired men with the EQ of a slice of toast might never come back to their senses in their lifetime, in the end the last year, the Global Economic Crisis, turns out to be the turning point of the whole story. What if the sensation of rejection, the sensation of having done everything right and still getting nothing in return has deeply shaped the next generation to lead our planet’s societies. Deeply enough for us to realize that it can’t go on like that if they want to make a better life for our children. And isn’t that, in the end, what all young parents want? Keeping their offspring from having to go through the same then they did. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why the Babyboomer generation acted the way they did: They have never had to experience a situation where they felt left alone, rejected, desperate. They can’t comprehend, from the emotional point of view, what suffering they caused in millions of young people, for everything they have known in their life was growth.

What if the shock we had to go through during that last year – and probably for another one – in the end turns out to be the cleaning fire that made (social) improvement possible again. We were confronted with the mistakes of our parents and their outcome so we will know where not to go once we are in charge. I feel deep sorrow and grief for those I know have been severely hurt by what they had to endure, many might never recover. Sometimes I feel full of hatred, too, wanting to storm out there and do terrible things to those white-haired men with zero EQ. It’s not what I learned about not doing harm that stops me. It’s the deep urge to take part in the change to happen during the years to come. I think “May you live in interesting times” after all is a blessing, not a curse.

In perhaps ten years time the white-haired men will retire one after another and from what I have seen lately the least of the multinational companies have taken proper care educating their next generation of leaders in time. Whilst waves of retirement already start there is nobody to fill the gaps that arise; Another outcome of the mismanagement that has happened since the late 1990ies. However this means in less than ten years, only five probably, every one of our generation, that has his sane mind left will be in high demand. We will be, finally, needed. And if you are needed you get to have power.

So what if we use that power. What if we don’t repeat the mistakes of our parents, but instead start building a livable work environment again where companies take care of their workforce just as the workforce takes care of its company. It has worked before, after all.

sending her late wishes for the New Year of 2010

yours,

Migdalit

Being a Stranger

Shalom there,

quite a while ago, when DoppelpassSchmetterlingsfrau said farewell to her blog’s readers, and when I read that last article about how even after years she still felt like a stranger in Israel and, ultimately, returned back home to Germany feeling at home at last, I had a deep look into my own feelings in Israel and just couldn’t help but assume  something terrible must have happened to her to make her feel that unwelcome. After all, her conclusion was something like when you lived in a foreign country, for any given time, either you accept that you will never truly belong there, or you face that you eventually have to move back home. Strange enough this seemed to be the typical argumentation anti-immigration, only voiced by a (former) migrant.

Perhaps my own experience of very quickly feeling somehow Israeli-ish doesn’t count, for it was just too short, but then there are people like Lila or Beer7 who have been living in Israel long enough to raise their family there and, no matter how hard I try, I could never read a single line suggesting that they were anything but happy with their decision. So the topic kept me thinking. And of course this is the direct track to Middle Europe‘s – existing or constructed – migration problem. Migration, of course, in both directions, as in Europeans emigrating from their countries of origin, as well als people immigrating into Middle Europe. Where, according to Schmetterlingsfrau’s conclusions, integration of migrants could never be achieved.

I do belong to those people who feel Middle Europe is too small for them for one reason of another. Just recently I had a discussion with A., a friend in Vienna who, very like Schmetterlingsfrau, suggested I’d eventually return to Middle Europe because of being too blue-eyed and exclusively belonging here anyway so I better stayed in the first place. Of course I heavily disagreed. But the remark got me thinking even more heavily.

The longer I considered Schmetterlingsfrau’s words, the more sense they did make to me, in the end. There is another part in her article, besides “go back home!“. There’s that part telling you “you’ll never become 100% Israeli / whatever”. Perhaps this is the key! Not dismissing one’s identity of origin even if living in another country for years and decades. Becoming something like 50% Austrian and 50% Israeli. After all one’s cultural identity of origin does heavily shape a person. Why deny it? With my work in Israel, acting as a bridge between Austria and Israel, this came to me very naturally and never appeared to be special. Just like Lila’s and Beer7’s way of keeping contact with Germany by means of their blogs. But if I take a look around I see I was wrong. How many people have been migrating and thinking they leave it all behind? And how many of them have eventually despaired and returned to their country of origin’s identity altogether?

If you have a look around in Austria’s migrant’s families pre ~1990 this can be pretty clearly seen. Austria, as the one country in the very heard of Europe, does have a very long tradition of immigration. Just have a look at the names of people. Vranitzky isn’t exactly German-sounding after all. However Austrian migrant families have managed to integrate into Austrian society, whilst what today’s so-called migration politic is all about is not about integration but about assimilation, even though they might call it integration. About becoming 100% Austrian / German / whatever, which just won’t ever possibly work. You can’t leave behind the best part of your life, just because of taking on another citizenship. But you can become a part of both societies and cultures. You can be Austrian and Israeli or German and Turkish at one time.

And if you’d ask me there’s nothing more fun for a kid then roaming a schoolmate’s Turkish-Austrian birthday party with his mother cooking all those delicious Turkish stuff with random Austrian mainstream music in the background in a house that is … well, just 50/50.

YUMMI!

yours,

Migdalit

The Dagger

Hey guys,

Right as I am writing this tonight something terrible is happening. Well, it has been happening for some months now. And it is happening right in front of all our eyes, too, however I doubt those who aren’t involved have already found out about it. Actually I doubt those in the midst of it have gotten the clue that they’re not alone but only one of a mass of people.

Do you know anybody who has graduated from university lately? And if so do you know anybody who has been able to find a job in any branch? I know a lot of promising young people who don’t. Many of them have brilliant C Vs featuring internship, stays abroad and the kind and it still doesn’t help. All they get are rejections and that’s not because something was wrong with them, but because something is wrong with our economy. Whilst in most western countries major lay-offs haven’t taken place so far (though I’m only going to believe in it once the German  election next weekend is over) companies all over the place have however reduced their number of employees. So how do you reduce your human resources’ costs without actually firing people, which would look bad in the media (and some suggest there might a secret pact with Governments forbids the companies to lay off too many employees in order to keep the order of state)? Right: You just stop recruiting. Retirements will do the rest for you. And that’s exactly what is happening right now.

Major multinational companies might still feature those glossy recruitment programs, yet if you try to apply for those jobs you might find it curious that, no matter for how many of them you apply and no matter how well you fit the requirements you will never get as much as an appointment for an interview. Is this due to a too big number of graduates as opposed to the (normal) number of jobs available? With a little knowledge about the number of graduates each year in certain disciplines I doubt it. Plus was it the pure number, it would mean the job hunt to take longer. Not forever. Though I have gone with believing those job openings were for internal recruiting only others have suggested they might be no more then a hoax posted for the media so everything looked fine.

Contacting some of the recruiting offices HR personnel was fast to add certainty to those theories: a majority of medium-sized companies has canceled graduate intake programs at all whilst the huge multinationals have reduced them to national intakes with a limited number of positions available, where in any normal year there would be a huge international campaign for talents. Normal recruiting has been halted nearly everywhere with many HR offices sending back automatic emails featuring there were no available positions “matching your skills” even if I didn’t even indicate my profession. Whatever the reason the outcome still is there are thousands of brilliant minds out there not able to find a job.

As far as Austria goes there have been studies about graduate unemployment, too. However those mystical disappeared from major online news platforms just hours after publication. I’m not a friend of conspiracy theories – I think most leaders are just to stupid to support a major conspiracy – still I have been wondering whether there might be information held back by the government in order to avoid a panic among students and graduates.

So if you happen to be one of those 2008 and 2009 graduates who have  been desperately looking for any kind of a  job for months now without success I’d want you to know that you are not alone. All around the place highly qualified young people are sharing your faith. It’s not because of your degree. It’s not because of a lack of networking (even that doesn’t help these days anymore as I have learned). And it’s most certainly not because of your qualification. It’s because of the fucked up minds of HR managers. Nothing else.

I wish I had a recipe to overcome this. A recipe where to find a job these days. But in the end we all know just too well that sustainability and company-society responsibility are unknown words to most economic and political leaders these days. Doing so they destroy our future and their company’s and nation’s just along. What it all comes down to is that it will be exactly those graduates of these days who will be paying the bill- again.

yours frustrated,

Migdalit