Wednesday, 15 April 2015

B1

A day after I booked my flight with German Wings to Berlin, one of their pilots decided to kill all his passengers on his personal suicide trip. I decided that German Wings were unlikely to have more of the same and bravely kept my booking.


As I boarded the flight, I found the following on my seat and wondered:





B2


Expenses on the first day:  Uber taxi to Heathrow - £37; a full month’s Berlin public transport travel card - £41.

B3


The architect who built this house in Schöneberg wanted something soothing and pleasant to the eye:



























However, Germans are truly anal about their garbage. It is all  Abfalltrennung, that is separation of garbage, and this is what the originally beautiful courtyard looks like now:




Wednesday, 1 April 2015

More Bach

It seems that some readers have misunderstood what I had written about Bach’s Johannes Passion. I did not go into the question whether Bach was an anti-Semite or not, nor into whether Bach had wanted to propagate anti-Semitic texts. All I pointed out was the effect that this most beautiful music combined with some of the texts of St. John Passion will most likely have had on listeners over the centuries.


Why doubt the manipulative power of beautiful music?

Israel Elections - What now?

A few weeks ago, Israel’s electorate have made it clear that they are not particularly troubled by the one issue that troubles the rest of the world (that is those that take an interest): their continued occupation and settlement of Israelis on Arab land and their control over Arab population. Security, cost of living and house prices were the election issues.

For some time and more so since the last elections, voices have be heard that Israel must be punished for this immoral stance. There are calls for boycott and sanctions.

It is not difficult to name many other countries whose human rights record is poorer than Israel’s. Indeed many of the countries that chair or run UN Human rights and similar organisations are nasty dictatorships themselves. Who are they to criticise Israel? Why should anyone listen to them and why should Israel be picked for punishment?

It should be borne in mind that many of these calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions are orchestrated by countries, bodies and individuals that object to the very existence of Israel, organisations that strive for the dismantling of the Jewish state. And then there is anti-Semitism: There are doubtlessly many whose criticism of Israel is a reflection of their anti-Semitism but Israel – again doubtlessly - gives good reason for serious criticism.

So let’s forget punishment. It is about saving. Proverbs taught us that he who spares the rod hates his son (Proverbs 13, 24) Israel is not a child and the world is not its parent, but naively, I hope that the world will save Israel from the moral downward spiral it has been on for too many years. The Occupation brutalises Israel, makes it more fundamentalist and more racist. It also increases the hatred of Jews in the Diaspora.

The USA could do it easily: it funds Israel, it arms Israel and it supports Israel diplomatically. A group of conservative Jews havs successfully built a lobby that has made the support of Israel as American as apple pie and no politician dares to criticise, let alone demand a change of policy in regard to Israel. We have lately seen, that Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu has virtually waged war on President Obama, as yet with impunity. That leaves Europe.


I am saddened by the awareness that without effective external pressure that translates into sanctions, Israel will not give up its hold over the Occupied Territories. It would be nice to do the right thing without being force to do so. This is a plea and undemocratic hope of a change that will make Israel democratic again.  

Sunday, 22 March 2015

St. John Passion

It is the time of year for St. John Passion and last night I heard a splendid rendering of Bach’s Johannes Passion in the Freiburg Münster. Bach in his great talent managed to vividly bring home the story told in the Gospel of St. John. Almost like an impressionist painter, with his choir, Bach brings out the atmosphere, the [Jewish] crowds and hysteria. The result is anti-Jewish agitation to the most beautiful music.

Sitting in the sombre gothic cathedral, I remembered my mother – who sang in the choir that performed the Passion in Israel in the late 60s and early 70s of last century – telling me that the words of the Johannes Passion made her feel more uncomfortable than any text she had previously sung. At the time, I did not really take much heed. I loved the music and that was enough. Having grown up in Israel, anti-Judaism was something I had never experienced. My other, who was born in Germany and had to flee with her family had first hand experience.


45 Year later, leaving the Freiburg Münster, I found myself thinking of the many generations of Christians leaving their solemn churches after hearing Bach’s Johannes Passion depicting the Jews driving the death of their Lord. How many of them, upon subsequently meeting a Jew in the streets of their town, then reacted with hatred, aggression and even violence, as a result of the animosity towards Jews that was planted in their hearts with the aid of the beautiful, so very beautiful music of Johan Sebastian Bach?

Use and abuse of the term Zionism

An article of mine on use and abuse of the term Zionist and Zionism, has just been published by the German Süddeutsche Zeitung.

A link is available on  request.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Israelis – Not so smart after all

Virtually all former heads of the Israeli secret services as well as hundreds of retired Israeli generals have for years made it clear that getting out of the Occupied Territories and reaching an agreement with the Palestinians is of vital strategic and existential importance to Israel.

But will the Israelis listen to them? No. Instead, they listen to and buy into the propaganda of the Israeli right wing politicians ranging from the messianic to the basic greedy land grabbers.

Israelis disregard their own security experts and instead listen to ideology driven doomsday scenarios, the latest of which is that a Palestinian State would be a launch pad for ISIS – the bogeyman en vogue. And they vote accordingly. There is hardly any political party running in the coming elections (17 March) that is truly interested in getting out of the West Bank and willing to say so.

The right-out stupidity of Israel’s population is the proof to anyone who has ever believed racial notions of Jewish superior wisdom, that there is no such thing.


How can so many people be fooled like that? 

Netanyahu and the US Congress

As he testified to US Congress in September 2002, here’s what Netanyahu the Great said:

“If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region… The task and the great opportunity and challenge is not merely to effect the ouster of the regime, but also to transform the region.” 

Twelve years laters and they continue to listen to him. An impressive lot these American lawmakers.

Successful salesmen don’t eat their hats; they get re-invited to sell their latest line. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Don't Envy the Israeli Ambassador

The Israeli ambassador to Germany in an interview to a German paper has today said that he “does not envy those Jews who live in Europe these days.” Well, I don't envy the Israeli ambassador. 

He is right to empathise – the poor Jews in Europe, out of loyalty to the Jewish state, continue to defend Israeli occupation and settlement policies, even when they think otherwise. They love Israel because it is the Jewish state, despite the fact that it has become an apartheid state, and that it is run by a corrupt clique. They love Israel because they are afraid of the moment they will no longer love it. And so, they look the other way and try to find justification for the unjustifiable.

The Israeli ambassador is right -  one cannot envy the European Jews, whose leaders sound as if they are Israeli government spokesmen.

The Israeli ambassador is right – Diaspora Jews must break free. They can love the idea of a Jewish state, they can love the fact that when they are in Israel, they are surrounded by fellow Jews, whilst standing up and openly making a stand against the land-grab and the occupation and control of millions of Palestinians by Israel.

By the way, the propaganda line led by Israel’s prime minister and echoed by his ambassador to Germany, that European Jews should flee to Israel for their security sounds like a bad joke. He cannot possibly suggest that they are safer in Israel, unless of course part of the deal on offer is privileged space for all newcomers in the high-tech nuclear bunker reserved for Israel’s ruling elite.   

I don't envy the Israeli ambassador. 

Israeli propaganda should be better


Israelis often feel the need  - when they are not called upon to serve their country in the army – to serve their country on the propaganda front. In this context, Israeli friends occasionally email me links to articles or information, which they think will shed a positive light on Israel. The latest such email that I received, linked to an article by Israel’s outgoing Minister of Finance, Ya’ir Lapid, published a couple of days ago in the Guardian.

It’s written in English and published in a British paper but I expect that the real purpose is to impress the home market. There is a general election in Israel in less than a month and standing up to the gentiles always gets an Israeli politician brownie points. In this article, Lapid tries to deride the recent open letter that was signed by 700 British artists who called for a boycott of Israel because of the continued occupation.

It is shallow and kitschy, stoops to pinkwashing – brandishing Israel’s gay rights to distract from Israel’s occupation wrongs, and leads nowhere.  Lapid besmirches Hamas (not so difficult), under whose rule gays are hanged and climaxes with a personal touch by naming “my friend Gila Tregerman”, whose four year old son was killed by a Palestinian mortar shell.   


Lapid tries to show that he cares about Diaspora Jews, who should “be able to stand safely outside synagogues and do their shopping in a kosher supermarket…” He could ask himself why it is that anti-Semitic attacks in Europe are on the rise whenever Israeli military activity seems to get out of control? And what he wants, Lapid says, is “...modest: for people not to try to kill me just because I’m a Jew.” He knows well enough that if anyone is trying to kill him, it is not because he is a Jew but because he is an Israeli and as surprising as it may seem to him, Palestinian terrorists have been killing Israelis and Israeli soldiers have been killing Palestinians for many years. The attempt to turn this into a “please don’t kill me just because I’m a Jew” is disgraceful and he should be ashamed of himself.  

Friday, 6 February 2015

Had Israel done it

A day after Islamic State published, their video of a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive, Jordan executed two jihadist prisoners. Earlier today, Jordanian Royal Air Force flew bombing sorties over IS held areas in Syria. The Jordanian king has promised more revenge.

No one in the West got very excited by the Jordanian reaction. A probably jealous Mr Lieberman, Israel’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, has praised the King for his “harsh and decisive response to the event.”

Had Israel reacted similarly in response to a murderous terror attack… It would have become a central story across the world. One or other country would have convened the UN Security Council, Jordan would have recalled its ambassador, European and even US student and teachers unions would have called for Israel to be boycotted, and violent demonstrations in Europe would have turned to attacks on Jewish institutions.

The fact is that nobody gives a damn about the execution of jihadists or the bombing of IS bases. But had Israel done it…