Monday, June 06, 2005

Crime up

Today we visited the new Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem with our
B'nai Brith group. Of course, it is a major improvement over the original
one, with a much larger space and much more modern presentation. The degree
of documentation is incredible, with eyewitness accounts at every stage.
But, what is one to say when one sees a jeering, cheering crowd of hundreds
of Latvians watching a group of terrified Jewish girls and women being raped
in public and then beaten to death. The Europeans have not come anywhere
near showing remorse or asking our pardon for what they perpetrated. And it
was not an isolated phenomenon, but occurred all over Europe, something on
which the Europeans were unified. I cannot write any more about this, but
everyone should visit it.
Meanwhile, as we prepare to leave Israel, things are both good and bad.
In the good column, the French are on the defensive and M. Chirac is
definitely on the skids as a result of the rejection of the European
constitution. Commentators think this may result in a turn around in
France, Germany and Italy to a more pro-American and pro-Israel attitude.
Part of the reason is a fear of allowing Turkey into the EU, that would
radically alter the balance of Muslims within the EU and result in a
possible wave of easy immigration into western Europe.
There is an election going on in Lebanon, and although the Shi'ite south
voted for Hizbollah, that was to be expected. At the same time there are
rumors of potential changes in Syria, while in Iraq the insurgency
continues, but so does the Iraqi Government-American reaction to it. The
calm in Israel with reduced terrorism continues to hold, although today two
Islamic Jihad terrorists were arrested in Beit Hanina with explosives and a
plan to blow up a synagogue in Ramot when it was full of worshippers.
On the negative side, there was a 30% increase in murders in Israel this
year over last year, with many cases of violence being reported. A few days
ago a young woman of 20 was murdered in Ashdod, and today a 13 year old boy
was attacked by a group of kids at a bar mitzvah in Rehovot and badly
beaten, the kids were high on alcohol. This type of thing is becoming more
common in Israel, last week a soldier died after a party and his officer has
been arrested, alcohol and drugs are suspected.
The major current police case is the so-called "Trojan horse" computer
program that was used to obtain information about the activities of their
competitors by several major Israeli companies. Apparently a programmer
named Elphrati, who currently lives in London, developed the program and put
a copy in his former father-in-law's computer. His father-in-law was very
surprised to see excerpts from the book he is currently writing in the
press. He complained to the police, they found the spy-ware in his
computer, and had Elphrati arrested in London, where is awaiting extradition
to Israel. Meanwhile they also discovered that he had sold copies to
several detective agencies who had sold them in turn to some of their
clients and had put them in the competitors' computers. Now three
detectives and several high ranking company executives have been questioned
and detained. Today the cabinet considered a proposal to drastically
increase the police budget and expand its capabilities.
A few months ago a Member of the Knesset voted electronically and then voted
again in place of an adjacent absent member. This is of course illegal. He
admitted the action, and so was charged by the police, but a Knesset
committee voted to give him immunity from prosecution. The case was taken
to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the Committee must reverse itself.
But, today the Committee voted again to protect the MK from prosecution.
This shows how far from legality and decent behavior our elected officials
are prepared to go. Unfortunately, there is little or no redress, since
there is no direct election of representatives they answer more to their
party than to the electorate, and all the parties are corrupt. What a
fiasco. I need a break!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Whither Europe?

The rejection of the new European constitution by large majorities in France
and Holland is a major blow to the ideal of a united Europe. At least an EU
in which the power of the European capital in Brussels would be enhanced
relative to the member states that would relatively lose more independence.
Although local politics may have played a role, in general the citizens of
two of the founding members of the EU voted for less EU centralization and
more retention of national rights.
This outcome is good news for those, including Israel and the US, who feared
that a stronger EU might have become more actively involved as a
pro-Palestinian player in the Middle East peace process. Now the EU has
more basic concerns to worry about than being able to throw its weight
around and compete with the US for influence in the world.
In a way, this is a pity, since the overall process of "federalization" of
Europe might have been welcomed by the US as a parallel process to their own
development. The US is after all a federal state, and the idea of a federal
Europe was appealing to Americans. Particularly if in the united Europe the
strong national antagonisms of the past would have been buried. For Jews,
the united Europe in principle could have meant a reduction in nationalism
and a concomitant greater acceptance in a less tribal Europe.
But, that was not to be, since the drive for Europe to carve out its own
identity has been largely at the expense of its alliance with the US. Since
the US is the most powerful and economically successful country in the
world, the Europeans have always been jealous of the US and especially the
French have been upset by the fact that the US had to save them twice from
defeat in WWI and WWII. Further, there was an increase in anti-Americanism
in the wake of the Iraq war. This anti-Americanism has been paralleled by a
concomitant increase in anti-Israelism, which has been manifested as a
liberal version of anti-Semitism, since the Europeans regard Israel as a
puppet of the US (or vice versa), and that's one reason why they take the
Palestinian side.
Another aspect of the rejection of the EU constitution is that it crossed
usually distinct political lines. Those on the far right who value their own
nationality as sacrosanct have strongly opposed Europeanization, and those
on the left who fear the loss of hard fought for social protections and
funding, have joined together with those who simply find it all a bit too
fast and bewildering, to put a halt to the European juggernaut. That does
not mean that the majority reject the EU altogether, only that the rate of
the process has been slowed and its destination rendered uncertain.
It is unlikely that even though the process of Europeanization has now
faltered, and the new constitution of the larger (25 member) EU is virtually
dead, that the political motives that have been released will be reduced.
We can expect anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism to increase in the near
future, as the Europeans struggle with the issues of their former identity
in nation states and their allegiance to the greater European Union. In
such situations it is always useful to have a scapegoat for perceived and
real problems, and the Jews and the Americans have been found to fit that
role perfectly.


What do the following people in the news have in common:
1. Victor Khodrokovsky, found guilty in Russia and sentenced to 9 years in
prison for tax avoidance.
2. Mark Felt, former Asst-Dir of the FBI in the USA, revealed as "Deep
throat" in the Watergate affair.
3. Sir Bob Geldoff, sometime singer in the UK and organizer of the 8-AID
concert to benefit Africa.
Of course, all of them are Jewish. What does it mean, I really don't know,
but it raises some thoughts. Is it coincidental that they are all Jewish, I
would say "no", there is a certain logic to it.
1. Khodrokovsky was the richest man in Russia, because like most of the
so-called "oligarchs," he was prepared to take the risk of buying up at
bargain prices the devalued industries of the USSR and converting them into
money making concerns, in his case the oil industry. Is it a coincidence
the man Pres. Putin of Russia chose to put on trial is Jewish? Definitely
not! That is not only my opinion, but Natan Sharansky is quoted in the J'sam
Post this morning that the trial of a Jew was carefully planned by Putin.
Anti-Semitism is endemic in Russia, so that this trial, the outcome of which
was pre-ordained, was just as much a "show trial" as those put on by
Stalin, although not as vicious. The most notorious of these in central
Europe during the 1950's was that of Rudolf Slansky, the Jewish head of the
Czech Communist party. The fact that he was a loyal communist was deliberate.
If he could be arrested anyone could be. This was how Stalin gained the
support of the people, through intimidation and anti-Semitism. Seven of
the 11 people executed with Slansky were Jewish, it was no coincidence.
In effect the suffering of the Jewish people in Europe continued from
1933-1989. Most Russians are jealous of the Jewish oligarchs, who they
believe "stole" their industries, so Putin makes himself popular by making
one of them suffer public humiliation.
2. Mark Felt gave the information to Woodward and Bernstein of the
Washington Post that enabled them to document the Watergate affair that
led to the downfall of Pres. Nixon. This was one of the most
historic events in modern American history. Is it a coincidence that a Jew
was behind the attempt to keep the US a democratic and free country? I
don't think so. It was an intensely patriotic thing to do. If anything the
Jews of America are very aware that the freedom of the US is what protects
them from the kind of attacks that occur in Russia and other countries.
3. Sir Bob practically cries out of emotion when he sees the suffering of
the children in Africa. I presume he is sincere. His is the true liberal
spirit, a Jewish value that even the most irreligious Jews imbibe with their
mother's milk. It is the Jewish basis of Christianity, when stripped of all
the icon worship and ersatz divinity. Can one conceive of any other "rocker"
organizing such an event? I think not.
In these three cases in three different countries Jews are still playing a
leading role. Although as Zionists we are happy to be gathered here into
our own little Jewish country, we are gratified that the Jewish role in the
diaspora remains active and engaged.

PS. This may be my last message for a while. We are going away for a month
to visit our son and family in California. I can still be reached via this
e-mail address.