Iran

Drying up the Nile – the al Jazeera Spy Cables

The cache of spy cables recently released by al Jazeera – and copied by most western news outlets – seem to be but the latest in a series of leaked intelligence sources. This time though US American agency mostly get a break with South Africa and the all famous Israeli intelligence service Mossad at the centre of it all.

At the beginning of the week one cable in particular, a Mossad brief to South African intelligence agency SSA gained attention throughout global news outlets: “Spy Cables reveal Mossad concluded that Iran was not producing nuclear weapons, after PM sounded alarm at UN in 2012.” al Jazeera reported:

A secret cable obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit reveals that Mossad sent a top-secret cable to South Africa on October 22, 2012, that laid out a “bottom line” assessment of Iran’s nuclear work.

It appears to contradict the picture painted by Netanyahu of Tehran racing towards acquisition of a nuclear bomb.

Writing that Iran had not begun the work needed to build any kind of nuclear weapon, the Mossad cable said the Islamic Republic’s scientists are “working to close gaps in areas that appear legitimate such as enrichment reactors”.

Little surprise the report was passed on throughout media outlets around the globe seemingly proving Israel’s (or at least its prime minister Netanyahu’s) warmongering using false threats against a nation that might have the rhetorics but not taken the actions to be a threat.
I have to admit it did raise my eyebrows too.

Bibi Netanyahu's all famous red line (C) the Guardian

Bibi Netanyahu’s all famous and much-mocked red line (C) the Guardian

And then, the other day, I leisurely scrolled through my news feed and found this gem from the same cache of al Jazeera spy cable leaks at the Guardian:

Israel has been trying for decades, the report says, to undermine Egypt’s vital Nile water source so that it becomes preoccupied with water shortages rather than the Arab-Israeli conflict. “Towards this end Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology conducted extensive experiments, and eventually created a type of plant that flourishes on the surface or the banks of the Nile and that absorbs such large quantities of water as to significantly reduce the volume of water that reaches Egypt.”

Frankly, I did not know whether to laugh or cry about it. A water sucking plant in order to dry out the Nile? Seriousely? This one fits right in with the old rumour about Mossad handing out libido enhancing candy to faithful Egyptian wives so as to undermine the fabric of their Muslim society.

Do people actually believe these things?

And more importantly: How did a fairy tale like this end up as a classified spy cable right out there with the really juicy stuff?

What it really showed to me though was that you have to take leaks like the recent al Jazeera one with a grain of salt. As the Guardian’s Seumas Milne and Ewen MacAskill caution in above-mentioned article:

Intelligence agencies thrive on impressing politicians and the public with their mystique, exploits real or imagined, and possession of information that supposedly gives them a unique understanding of the world.

[…]

In the world of espionage, today as in the past, spies peppering reports with half-truths, rumours, the outlandish and the downright ridiculous is par for the course, the secret cables show – and not that remote from the lucrative fantasies and inventions of Graham Greene’s fictional MI6 agent in Our Man In Havana.

So while, yes, I can absolutely see a character such as Bibi Netanyahu right out ignoring the intelligence he is given if it is inconvenient for his own agenda this particular one just does not add up. Yes, Netanyahu might well have been exaggerating the threat in order to make his point. But there being no conceivable treat whatsoever, no sign for a non-peaceful nuclear program at all in Iran as the cable suggests? It just does not quite fit in with the activity we have seen around the Irani nuclear program – such as the Stuxnet worm targeting Irani nuclear centrifuges just to name an example.

Also we need to remember that intelligence agencies the world over are adapt at placing misinformation or intentionally “leaking” material. The al Jazeera article itself hints at a schism between Mossad and Netanyahu, quoting former head of Mossad Meir Dagan’s concern about the prime minister prematurely embarking on war with Iran which he thought was “a stupid idea”. There is ample motive for the agency to distribute de-escalating material if they indeed have come to mistrust Netanyahu.

It is simply careless to be dismissing Iran as a nuclear threat to Israel just yet without doing our homework on this leaked so-called “intelligence”. As usual in Israel there as more to it than meets the eye.

– Migdalit

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Silk Road

When we thing about the Middle East how often do we merely think of the violence and the bloodshed?

A while ago I had the fortune of seeing the amazing Hidden Treasures from the National Museum Kabul exibition. You learn in school, of course, that ancient “mesopotamia” and all the other places that sound to the student more like fairy tales than actual locations were the cradde of civilisation during a time when Europeans were basically still living in caves. But it is easy to forget that all these marvels, Assur and Sumer and the Persian Empire, are the very geographic places we still see in the TV news all the time. I, too, forgot. Until some years ago I was at a UNESCO / Blue Shield conference and upon the long stream of presenters was an archaeologist almost in tears about the fashion in which Allied troops would trample throgh the very ruins of Babylon without even realising. Ulitmately she had a deck of playing cards, similar to the one featuring the US’ most wanted terrorists, printed showing the most important heritage sites of Iraq hoping someone would remember to thread lightly in these ancient lands.

These days I have been considering travel destinations for later this year and to my own surprise I found myself lay eyes on places I knew I cannot go: The ancient sites of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan; the cradle of civilisation where every rock tells a story or two or three. I want to see how the ancient Silk Road winds through the ranges of northern Afghanistan and Iran; I want to see the marvellous Persian gardens and the ruins of all those places we learnt about in history class much like they were from another world. But of course I cannot go there for they are drenched in blood and chaos that can re-errupt at any moment. There are still, and that is for a reason, travel warnings for Iraq and Afghanistan and the boycott of Iran means you cannot even withdraw money from an ATM or use a credit card there – leaving you stranded without cash in an emergency.

So as I looked longingly upon those fairy tale places it dawned on me with new strength how much more there is to the Middle East than terrorism and war and IEDs blowing up everyone that comes too close. I wonder how long it will take until I can travel there and feel welcome and secure and all of a sudden I just cannot wait for the time when the conflict is nothing but a memory and heritage sites are being given a new lease of life.

Five years ago I went on an extended field trip to Croatia. I had been there as a child, before the civil war, and I still remembered the place nobody ever thought would descend into chaos; a place with people much as we were where we would go to unwind and enjoy the sea and the hospitality and great cuisine of her people. And then the war came and all we ever got to see again of Croatia were endless streams of traumatised refugees. For ten or so years Croatia, too, was one of these places you just could not go.

So going there again after the debris had been cleared and an emancipated Croatia was on its way of becomming an European Union member had something magic. Visiting Dubrovnik, that medieval gem that was almost destroyed by the ferocity of civil war but had been rebuilt to its fully glory was special. Yes, there were still the traces of shelled houses never rebuilt as soon as you left the main road; a reminder of just how little time had passed; but seeing Croatia again after the war was a pointer how there is always a time after. Eventually.

And now looking upon the Mesopotamian high cultures I wonder and hope whether in another ten years these, too, might just awake from their uncomfortable rest and once again become sites to be marvelled at by generations to come with the war but a chapter of a very, very long and glorious history.

– Migdalit

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

Miraculously Surviving

Shalom there,

I realized I haven’t been properly blogging anything Israel-related lately. Also it seems the Expat-Israelis featuring some of my favorite blogs – Ruth and Lila, most of all – have also decreased in their blogging activity and, at the same time retreated to more personal matters. When I started this blog some two years ago every slight chance in diplomatic climate, every sentence said by an Israeli or foreign politician had been torn into pieces by me and my fellow “pen warriors” (as one Israeli friend named us). It was great to read those blogs and great to write about what was going on. Perhaps it was, after all, our way to deal with the fear and the dormant hope for a change and sustainable peace, finally. Is it gone now? Have my stay in Israel and the Intifada been that long that we have lost our motivation to write?

Fact is that the unbearable situation in Israel is everything but resolved. We have not forgotten the Gaza war and, for sure, none of us has forgotten about the nuclear threat of Iran. I mean, man, even IAEA has meanwhile waken up to the fact that the Persians are plotting something – which basically means little more than that meanwhile Iran’s ambitions for a veritable genocide have become so obvious even United Nations don’t dare look the opposite direction anymore. And of course the usual hullabaloo is going on with foreign diplomats traveling the region babbling about peace and stuff.

However in the end, if you look at the big picture little has changed. It is still the same mess. The players might have changed – at least outside Israel, where political power has circulated between a rather small group of (male, askhenazi) politicians ever since – and the battlefields might have changed, generations might have changed too and with them quite a lot of details and hopes, but in the end Israel is still in danger. Israel is still in danger of existence and the peoples labeled “Palestinian” is still left alone by those who have pushed it into exile and chaos and suffering.

Perhaps in a way we have despaired. I sometimes feel I did. I sometimes find myself thinking how it will be just like this in the future anyhow. How players and battlefields will keep changing. How wars will keep coming and going. How even if what we write moves some people, perhaps changes some people, in the end it won’t make a difference. Perhaps, one day, Gilad Shalit will be released just like, one day, terrorist attacks stopped destroying everyday life (for whatever reason) and, one day, the Gaza War was over. There will be victories – and there will be setbacks, wars, attacks, deaths. In the end, for sixty years now Israel has, miraculously, survived. Its easy to find ones thoughts wandering that direction in what seems to be safe, far away Europe.

Can we, if after some years, motivation leaves us, trust in a new Generation to take over? Can it really be enough to hand over the scepter to that new Generation – given there is one – and say “we have done our share!”. Hasn’t that been the way it is for sixty, perhaps even thousands of years now? We can’t change things if we keep doing what our ancestors did!

yours,

Migdalit

Shimon Peres’ Address to the German Bundestag

Shalom everybody,

Today I found a final opportunity to go with the special quality of blogging: Having it published just after it happened.

I happened to turn to ARD – German public television – just at the right time to hear and see the address by Shimon Peres in the German Parliament, the Bundestag. A speech that moved me in so many way I wanted to share it right ahead. Perhaps I’ll add some thoughts of my own later on but for the moment it’s just Peres’ words:

I stand here before you, as the President of the State of Israel, the home of the Jewish People.

While my heart is breaking at the memory of the atrocious past – my eyes envision a common future for a world that is young, a world free of all hatred.

A world in which the words “war” and “anti-Semitism” will be dead words.

Distinguished gathering,

In the Jewish tradition that accompanies us for thousands of years, there exists a prayer in Aramaic recited when mourning the dead, in memory of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters.

The mothers, whose infants were torn from their arms, and the fathers, who watched in horror as their children were pushed into the gas chambers and their children go up in the smoke of the crematoriums, did not have the time to recite nor to listen to this ancient prayer.

On this occasion, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to recite this prayer, here and now, in the name of the Jewish people, in memory of, and in honor of, the six million Jews who turned to ashes:

“יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּששְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא
בְּעָלְמָא דִּי בְרָא כִרְעוּתֵהּ
וְיַמְלִיךְמַלְכוּתֵהּ
וְיַצְמַח פּוּרְקַנֵה וִיקָרֵבמְשִׁיחֵה
בְּחַיֵּיכוֹן וּבְיוֹמֵיכוֹן וּבְחַיֵּידְכָל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל, בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.”

“Exalted and hallowed be His great Name throughout the world which He has created according to His will.  May He establish His kingship, bring forth His redemption and hasten the coming of His Messiah in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon, and say, Amen.”

And the prayer ends with the words which became a symbol in the State of Israel, a dream in the Jewish world:

“He, who makes peace in His Heights, may He, in his compassion, make peace upon us, and upon all Israel.  And they responded: Amen.”

My Friends, the leaders of the German people and its representatives,

In the State of Israel, and across the world, survivors of the Holocaust are gradually departing from the world of the living. Their numbers are daily diminishing.

And at the same time, men and women, who took part in the most odious activity on earth – that of genocide – still live on German and European soil, and in other parts of the world.

My request of you is:  Please do everything to bring them to justice.

This is not revenge in our eyes. This is an educational lesson. This is an hour of grace for the young generation, wherever they may be. That they may remember, and never forget, that they should know what took place, and that they never, absolutely never, have the slightest doubt in their minds that there is another option, other than peace, reconciliation and love.

Today, the International Remembrance Day for the victims of the Holocaust is the day on which the sun shone for the first time sixty-five years ago, after six evil years, its rays revealing the full extent of the destruction of my people.

On that same day, the smoke still rose above the bombed incinerators, and the blood-stains and ashes still heavily lay on the soil of the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The train-station platform was silent. And the “selection ramp” was empty of people. On the monstrous field of slaughter settled a deceptive atmosphere of tranquility.

The ear caught only the quiet, yet from the depth of the frozen ground emanated a scream that broke human hearts, and ascended to the passive and silent heavens.

On January 27th, 1945, the world awoke to the fact, somewhat too late, that six million Jews were no longer among the living.

This day not only represents a memorial day for the victims, not only the pangs of conscience of humankind in the face of the incomprehensible atrocity that took place, but also of the tragedy that derived from the procrastination in taking action.

This constitutes the lesson learnt from the world’s inattention in the face of the rising flames, and the killing machine that operated day after day, year after year, with no opposition.

Three years beforehand, on January 20th, 1942, not far from here, in “Villa Wannsee,” on the shores of the beautiful lake, a group of senior officers and bureaucrats, headed by Reinhard Heydrich, convened to devise and coordinate the “Final Solution” plan for the “Jewish Question.”

Adolf Eichmann diligently worked on a document that identified the target population intended for deportation and extermination.

It encompassed all the Jews in the European continent. From the three million living in Poland, Ukraine, and the Soviet Union, to the two hundred Jews living in tiny Albania.

Eleven million Jews were marked to die.

The Nazis performed an effective job, and from Wannsee the path led to Auschwitz, to the gas-chambers and the incinerators.

I stand before you on this day and in this place, distinguished leaders and representatives of a different Germany, democratic, as the representative of the State of the Jews, of the State of the Survivors, of the State of Israel.

I am humbled by the significance of this daunting and elevated position.  I believe and hope that you feel as I do.

I can see in my mind’s eye, at this very moment, the imposing image of my deeply respected grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Melzer, handsome and dignified.

I was blessed to have been his beloved grandson.

He was my guide and mentor.

He was the one who taught me Torah. I see him with his white beard and dark eyebrows, enveloped in his Tallith (praying shawl), among the congregation praying in the synagogue, in the town where I was born, Vishniev in Belarus.

I wrapped myself in the folds of his Tallith, and with much emotion listened to his clear and lovely voice.  It is still ringing in my ears, as he recited the Kol Nidrei prayer of Yom Kippur, in the hours and the moments when, according to our belief, the Creator of the world determines who to life and who to death.

I still remember him at the train station from which I, an 11-year-old child, started on my journey from my village to Eretz Israel.

I remember his poignant embrace. I remember the last words and the order that heard from his mouth: “My boy, always remain a Jew!”

The train whistled and started on its way.

I continued watching my grandfather until he disappeared from sight.

That was the last time I saw him.

When the Nazis came to Vishniev, they ordered all the members of the community to congregate in the synagogue.

My grandfather marched in front, together with his family, wrapped in the same Tallith in which I enveloped myself as a kid. The doors were locked from the outside and the wooden structure was torched. And the only remains of the whole community were embers.

There were no survivors.

Distinguished gathering,

The Holocaust raises painful questions that touch on the infinite depth of a man’s soul.

To which depth can the evil in man sink? And to which extent can a people that knew culture and respected intellect, remain silent?

What kind of atrocities can be performed? How much can a moral compass be silenced? A rational deliberation be crushed? How can a nation consider itself to be “a superior race” and others inferior?

And the question still remains today why did the Nazis see in the existence of Jews a great and immediate danger?

What induced them to invest in the killing machine such extensive resources?

What motivated the Nazis to continue operating with such determination to the very end, even though their defeat had already appeared on the horizon?

Was a Jewish power threatening to block the “thousand-year Reich?” Could the persecuted people, crushed by the boot of the oppressor, stop the destructive war machine of the Nazis?

How many divisions were at the disposal of the Jewish communities in Europe? How many tanks, war-planes, guns?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Nazi rabid hatred cannot be solely defined as “anti-Semitic.”

This is a commonly-used definition.  It does not fully explain the burning, murderous, beastly drive that motivated the Nazi regime, and their obsessive resolve to annihilate the Jews.

The war’s objective was to conquer Europe; not to settle scores with Jewish history.

And if we constituted, we the Jews, a terrible threat in the eyes of Hitler’s regime, this was not a military threat, but rather a moral threat.

An opposition to the desire that denied our faith that every man is born in the image of God, that we are all equal in the eyes of God, and that all men are equal.

A Jew, even when unable to defend himself, will still sanctify God’s name, and fulfill the commandments.

Since the day when the Jewish nation was founded, we have been commanded: “Thou shall not kill!” “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself!” “Seek peace and pursue it!” – in every situation, in every place.

This naïve Jew, who believes in these commandments, I now see in front of me, in the form of my good grandfather, the most honest and beloved of men.

The Nazis tried to demonize him.

They burned him and his brothers alive. The flames burned their corpses. But not their spirit.

They tried to depict my people in horrible propaganda films and on the pages of “The Stürmer” as parasites, sewer-rats, and the propagators of illnesses.

The Nazis tried to forget, and induce others to forget, the values of justice and mercy.

As a Jew, I always carry the pain of the holocaust endured by my brothers and sisters. As an Israeli, I regret the tragic delay in the establishment of the Jewish State that left my people with no safe harbor.

As a grandfather, I cannot come to terms with the loss of one and a half million children – the greatest human and creative potential that could have changed Israel’s destiny.

I am proud that we are the arch-enemy of Nazi evil.

I am proud of the legacy of our forefathers, diametrically opposed to the doctrine of racism.

I am proud of the revival of Israel, the moral and historic answer to the attempt to erase the Jewish People from the face of the earth.

I thank the Lord that peoples rose and crushed the madness, the evil and cruelty.

The Holocaust must always be prominent in our minds and in the conscience of humanity, and serve as an unequivocal warning in perpetuity.

As a binding decree to uphold the sanctity of life, equality among men, freedom and peace.

The murder of Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany should not be seen as a kind of astrophysical “Black Hole,” that ingests the past as well as the future.

The Holocaust must not become a barrier against faith in decency, in hope and in life.

I ask myself today how would the European Jews have wanted us to remember them? Only through the smoke of the incinerators? Or to also remember life before the Holocaust?

If there is a collective voice for the millions of European Jews, this voice calls upon us to look ahead. To be what the victims could have been and were not.  To create anew what we lost when they were annihilated.

The contribution of German Jewry, who identified with their country, to fields such as culture, science, the economy, and the standing of Germany as a whole, was extensive, out of proportion with the size of the community.

In the thousand years of their existence, the Jews of Europe moved with the forces of Europe’s advances.

From the golden era of Spain to the golden era of Germany.

The Jews of Europe were instrumental in advancing and developing the spheres of science, technology, the economy, literature and the arts of this continent.

This they achieved because when they were banished from their countries, they were forced into a nomadic life. They were

well-versed in literature, multi-lingual merchants, a people blessed with  doctors, writers, scientists and artists. Many of them played prominent roles in Germany’s culture and contributed to the world at large.

I am overwhelmed at the thought of the tremendous stream of visionaries and inventors that burst forth from the foundations of the Jewish towns, the Jewish ghettos. From the homes of the Jewish bourgeoisie, when Jews were permitted to enter the gates of the universities.

As with the stroke of a wand, there appeared Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber, Karl Marx, Herman Cohen, Hannah Arendt, Heinrich Heine, Moshe Mendelson, Rosa Luxemburg, Walther Rathenau, Stefan Zweig and Walter Benjamin.

Common to these dissimilar people is their tremendous contribution to human thinking, their contribution to modernism in their own exceptional way.

They guided the sight of Europe and the world to a new future.

And now we are left with the decisive lesson: “Never again” – never again a racist doctrine.

Never again the feeling of superiority.

Never again a so-called divine authority to incite, murder, scorn the law, deny God and the Holocaust.

Never again ignore blood-thirsty dictators, hiding behind demagogical masks, who utter murderous slogans.

The threats to annihilate a people and a nation are voiced in the shadow of weapons of mass-destruction, which are held by irresponsible hands, by irrational thinking and in an untruthful language.

To prevent another holocaust, we must educate our children to respect human life and to promote relations between peoples based on peace.

Respect individual cultures and universal values, turn every time anew to the Ten Commandments.

Unlock scientific secrets with lit torches, microscopes and telescopes, to advance into the realm of new remedies for human beings and their souls. Food for the hungry, water for the thirsty, air to breathe. Knowledge for humankind.

As the British Mandate came to an end, David Ben-Gurion, leader of the newly revived Jewish nation, declared the establishment of the State of Israel.

The Arabs rejected the U.N. resolution and their armies attacked Israel.

Indeed, a few hours after its Declaration of Independence, seven Arab armies invaded Israel, with the object of destroying it even before it was established.

We faced them alone. With no allies, with our backs to the last shores of hope that the Jewish People still maintained.

Had we been defeated in war, this could have been the end of our people.

The IDF won this desperate battle, in which historical justice and human heroism joined forces. Holocaust survivors were already serving in the IDF, and some of them fell in the line of duty.

The small Israel, while it was still licking its wounds, immediately opened its gates to the remnants of the Holocaust survivors and the multitude of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. All other gates were closed to them.

Distinguished gathering,

We remember that as we were still bleeding from our wounds, help came from an unexpected quarter, from the new Germany.

Two leaders, prominent in the annals of history, stretched their hands out one to the other, from the two sides of the abyss:

Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, the father of the Democratic Federation of Germany, and David Ben-Gurion, the founding father and first prime minister of the State of Israel.

On September 27th, 1951, from the Bundestag podium, Adenauer spoke about the responsibility of the German people for the crimes of the Third Reich against the Jewish people, and the intention of his government to devise a compensation agreement for the loss of Jewish property and help in the revival process of Israel.

The decision of the government of Israel to hold direct negotiations with the German government provoked a stormy reaction thus far never experienced.

Holocaust victims with death camp numbers embedded in their arms were among the stone-throwers at the Knesset and there were those who sided with Ben-Gurion.

Ben-Gurion stood by his decision: there is a new Germany. With it we have to discuss the future, not only the past.

The distressed Knesset gave its consent.

The restitution payments helped in Israel’s economic recovery and contributed to its accelerated development.

It was my privilege at the time, as a young man, to serve as his assistant, and later as Ben-Gurion’s deputy at the Ministry of Defense.  I learned that while Israel was building its home, it also had to defend its sons.

Also here we found an attentive German ear, providing us with defense equipment.

Unique ties developed between Germany and Israel.

The friendship that was established did not develop at the expense of forsaking the memory of the Holocaust, but from the memory of the dark hours of the past. In view of the joint and decisive decision to look ahead – towards the horizon of optimistic hope. Tikkun Olam – putting the world aright.

The bridge built across the ravine was built by painful hands and shoulders that were carrying the burden of memory. It rested on strong moral foundations.

We built a living memorial for our brothers and sisters. With ploughshares that turned the arid desert into thriving orchards.

With laboratories that generated new life. With defense forces able to defend our survival. On the pillars of an uncompromising democracy.

We believed, and continue to believe, that the new Germany will be doing whatever needs to be done to ensure that the Jewish state will never again have to fight for its survival alone.

That murderous and condescending dictatorships will never again raise their heads, in our era.

David Ben-Gurion, who predicted a different Germany, was right.

Thank you.

From Konrad Adenauer, who found a common language with David Ben-Gurion, and Willy Brandt, who kneeled in memory of the Warsaw Ghetto heroes, and you, Members of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat, from Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl, and other leaders, you strengthened the foundations and ties of friendship.

And institutions, financial organizations, cultural centers, intellectuals and doers, who contributed to the enrichment of these unique relations.

You, President Horst Köhler, you declared at the Knesset in Jerusalem that “the responsibility for the Holocaust is part of the German identity.” We very much appreciate this.

And you, Madam Chancellor, Angela Merkel, you have conquered the hearts of our nation with your sincerity and your warmth. You said to the American Senate and House of Representatives that “an attack on Israel will equate an attack on Germany.” We shall not forget this.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Close to sixty years have passed since the founding of the State of Israel.

We have withstood the test of nine wars.

We reached two peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan.

We gave back that which fell into our hands in the wars to the countries with whom we made peace.

We remained a country small in size and poor in raw material.

Our land is barren, yet we were still successful in developing a model agriculture esteemed by many to be one of the best in the world.

We compensated for the lack of natural resources with cutting-edge scientific and technological advances that have brought us to the forefront of scientific developments. These accomplishments make up for the smallness of our land.

We have seen an ingathering of exiles. The major part of the Jewish people today lives in Israel.

We have regained our language.

We are the only country in the region in which its citizens speak the same language that was spoken four thousand years ago – the Hebrew language, the language of the Bible.

Jewish history continues to move forward on two parallel tracks:

The moral track, encapsulated in the Ten Commandments. The document which was written some three thousand years ago, has not required any change and has become the basis of western culture.

And the scientific track, which unravels hidden secrets and breaks genetic codes, concealed in the past from the eyes of men and which, unraveled, change our lives.

Israel is a Jewish and democratic state.  In it some million and a half Arab citizens live with equal rights. We shall not allow discrimination against anyone on account of their nationality or faith.

We overcame the global economic crisis and have returned to growth.

Our culture is modern and traditional at one and the same time.

Israeli democracy is ebullient. Without a dull moment.  It never remains idle, not even in times of war.

Israel’s victories did not eliminate the dangers it faces. We do not crave for land which is not ours.  We do not wish to rule other peoples. But do we have the right to close our eyes.

Our national ambition is distinct and clear, to make peace with our neighbors.

Israel supports the principle of the “two state solution”.

We paid a price in wars, we did not hesitate to also pay a price for peace.

Also today we are prepared to relinquish territories to achieve peace with the Palestinians and to enable them to establish an independent, prosperous and peaceful state.

Like our neighbours, we identify with the millions of Iranians who revolt against dictatorship and violence.

Like them we reject a fanatic regime, which contradicts the United Nations Charter.  A regime which threatens destruction, accompanied by nuclear plants and missiles and who activates terror in its country and in other countries.

This regime is a danger to the entire world.

We want to learn from the Europeans, who unshackled Europe from a thousand years of war, and bitterness and enabled Europe’s young to substitute the hostility of their forefathers by brotherhood.

It would be wise to learn from their experience, to dream about a Middle East in which its countries will depart from the conflicts of their parents on behalf of peace for their children.

Establish a modern regional economy that would fight new and common challenges: Hunger, desertification, sickness and terror.

Promote scientific cooperation to improve the standard of living and secure quality of life.

The common god of all is the god of peace, not the god of war.

Distinguished gathering,

I stand here before you as a man who believes that it is in your power, and in our power, to contribute to the creation of a new history.

Threats on Israel will not divert its heart from peace.

I believe that peace is attainable.

I stand here before you as the son of a people that aspires to contribute in every way they can to attain a world which is enlightened and lucid, where men will act as human beings to human beings.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day of communion and reflection.

An hour of education and hope.

I started with Kaddish and will end with the Hatikva:

“עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָהתִּקְוָתֵנוּ
הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם
לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁיבְּאַרְצֵנוּ
אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.”

“In the Jewish heart, a Jewish spirit still sings,
And the eyes look east, toward Zion,
Our hope is not lost, our hope of two thousand years,
To be a free nation in our land,
In the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

Permit us, allow yourselves, to dream and realize the dreams.

source: German Bundestag

China on the March

Hello everybody,

as some of you might remember I tend to be highly sceptical about China. I remember once I had a discussion with a good Israeli friend of mine about Israel and Europe and Israel and China and she claimed she would prefer an China to Europe for “China at least wouldn’t actively get us all killed.” I objected telling her that China might not get Israel off the map for a reason but they wouldn’t care at all if they helped somebody else doing it as long as it was for their benefit. Well, it didn’t take much more then a couple of weeks until China sold off some fighter jets (at least I think it was fighter jets … has been about two years now) that fascinatingly resembled Israeli ones quite a lot, to – well guess whom – Israel’s best buddy Iran.

For historic reason time goes another way in China. Chinese don’t plan in three or four years – as has happened in Europe lately – but rather in four or five decades, if not generations. Guess why they have been buying pretty much every given resource off the world market for some years now. Guess why they have been constructing giant underground tanks for some time now. Because they managed to think ahead. Which of course doesn’t make them any nicer pals at all. They’re still top 1 when it comes to capital punishments. And I guess when it comes to human rights issues they aren’t far from top 1 either. The thing about China is they just don’t give a damn about anything but whatever they perceive as their greater goal. And men are just as much a resource – one they have plenty of – as coal or oil.

It has its pros too. Lately a reader of an Austrian newspaper I read pointed out how China could be the one element that might keep the global economic crisis from turning into a new wave of global poverty as seen in 1929. Just take the US Dollar, he wrote, China has bought quite a lot of it and they won’t have it loose its value as long as they need it to stabilize their currency. The same is true for their export oriented economy and – of course – their long term plans – what ever they may be. So China might be the one world power that – without caring about any kind of sacrifice they have to make lest any morals – would take every means necessary to stabilize the world economy before the whole crisis reaches some point of no return. And, if we have a look at history, on the long run thereby it might even be China that prevents a World War III.

Of course knowing how many US Dollars China owns also leads to the inconvenient idea of what might happen if China sold off all those US Dollars at once. And now thing what this would mean for the USA. Guess why they, in spite of their wish to be “World Police” again keep on looking the other way whenever China chooses to ignore human rights again (simplified yet not the less true). Mid- to long-term China has already muted the US and, through economic bounds, searches to mute Europe as well. Which, as far as I am concerned, works out in parts as long as the European self consciousness stays as little as it is now (which could change rapidly once Europe is out of the global economic crisis and realizes how well it has done coping with it) and even more as long as Europe is focusing on “soft” (economic) instead of “hard” (military) power and has no interest in taking over the US’ old role as “World Police”. Nevertheless Europe hasn’t shut up as much as China might wish for lately. European remarks on Chinese human rights issues are a matter of regular press attention and the Dalei Lama is treated at least as good as any foreign Head of State in most European nations. Doesn’t change a thing of course but at least it reminds China that the world doesn’t belong to them – yet.

The world however isn’t just Europe and the US – “first world”. It’s the “third world” too. And here China has stared a charm bombing equalling Tom Cruise’s towards Germany with “Valkyrie”. Especially the countries of Africa have been subject to China’s shopping tour for allies. Chinese officials have been travelling those countries and, other then Europeans, made them feel equal. The emphasis might well be “made them feel”, yet for Africans, which have always only been treated as either servants or subjects to be sorry for, it’s no wonder it did the trick. And though China’s bonds with African countries might not yet show a positive balance on the long run they sure will. Just think natural resources – including water and soil -, human resources and – of course – strategic points.

How far China’s Africa mission has already come can be seen here where, pressurized by China, South Africa – still role model to many other African States – has denied the Dalei Lama an entry visa and hasn’t even cared to invent any excuses. It might sound like a small thing but think about it – a foreign nation interfering with who enters your territory and who not – does that still sound like an “independent” country?

Sometimes I feel on a unconscious layer the world is splitting up into pacts again and the Chinese one’s for sure growing fastly …

keep an eye on it!

yours

Migdalit

Change

Hey folks,

keeping an eye on what could be perceived as the “other side” – which I consider bullshit, as you might already have found out from previous entries – can be rather fertilizing: Today it was Shahrazad, a remarkable woman from Iran, which got me sit down in front of my blog – again. Impressively vivid she shared a part of her own (political) experience:

I remember the first time of my voting, i was 16 years old and in grade 2 of highschool. As first voters, we were not that dumb about what would happen around the world. It was the first and most important election in Iran, for Iranian reformists came up into political scene. After strict years of war and then Rafsanjani’s presidential era, reformists brought up the message of ‘change‘. Changes that people loved the word, even if they didn’t get what can be the real meaning of this motto. [source]

Do you already join me in having a deja vue? I sure had one when reading Shahrazad’s remarks about the movement in Iran that should eventually lead to the election of … well, guess who; Who might be that charismatic Persian leader that moved people talking about “change”?

He promised for ‘change’, a briliant future for Iran as the most successful country in the world. He promised for justice, For putting the petroleum income on people’s tables. He promised to cut the hands of rich economical corrupted leaders off the national wealth. He promised for happiness, hope and prosperity. [source]

Shahrazad goes on and as the deja vue tightens so does the horror in realizing whom she is talking about. Nobody else then the very man that is threatening Israel’s and the US’ pure, physical existance these days and is, by many people all around the globe, perceived as the one man most likely to start World War III: Ahmad Ahmadinejad. The man, in fact, who is compared to no lesser then Adolf Hitler on a regular basis. Talking of which: Remember, Hitler used to be a charismatic leader too. I just lately talked about him to my grandmother – something that is possible but needs a lot of empathy and you to keep from repeating and repeating and repeating that a whole generation has loaded guilt on their shoulders by not preventing his reign and terror – and she told me how people where moved by his speeches, how for the first time in years the desperate population felt hope through his words. And now, if I think about it for a while, what he was talking about was, put in a nutshell, no more, no less then – change.

No, I don’t intend to state that Obama is the new Hitler or at least new Ahmadinejad. But how could we know? How can we tell a charismatic leader that means well – which still doesn’t mean that he will do well – from a charismatic leader that wants no more then trick a desperate people, which is exactly what we have / had in 1933 Germany, 2005 Iran and today’s USA? How do you make sure Obama is not, indeed, “a hawk in a dove’s outfit” [Keyhan @JPost]? With all the popularityhe has all around the world and the power his office provides he could easily come pretty far before being stopped; theoretically far enough not to be able to be stopped anymore at all.

And then, if we concede that there is no certain way to make sure: How can we blame people that elected Ahmadinejad in 2005? Didn’t they vote “change” just as much as US Americans did a week ago?

If only life was that simple and black and white …

… well I guess it was rather boring.

yours,

Migdalit