In Madoff scandal, Jews feel an acute betrayal

Leave a comment

International Herald Tribune
In Madoff scandal, Jews feel an acute betrayal
By Robin Pogrebin
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

There is a teaching in the Talmud that says an individual who comes before God after death will be asked a series of questions, the first one of which is, “Were you honest in your business dealings?” But it is the Ten Commandments that have weighed most heavily on the mind of Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles in light of the sins for which Bernard Madoff stands accused.

“You shouldn’t steal,” Rabbi Wolpe said. “And this is theft on a global scale.”

The full scope of the misdeeds to which Madoff has confessed in swindling individuals and charitable groups has yet to be calculated, and he is far from being convicted. But Jews all over the country are already sending up something of a communal cry over a cost they say goes beyond the financial to the theological and the personal.

Here is a Jew accused of cheating Jewish organizations trying to help other Jews, they say, and of betraying the trust of Jews and violating the basic tenets of Jewish law. A Jew, they say, who seemed to exemplify the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes of the thieving Jewish banker.

So in synagogues and community centers, on blogs and in countless conversations, many Jews are beating their chests — not out of contrition, as they do on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, but because they say Madoff has brought shame on their people in addition to financial ruin and shaken the bonds of trust that bind Jewish communities.

“Jews have these familial ties,” Rabbi Wolpe said. “It’s not solely a shared belief; it’s a sense of close communal bonds, and in the same way that your family can embarrass you as no one else can, when a Jew does this, Jews feel ashamed by proxy. I’d like to believe someone raised in our community, imbued with Jewish values, would be better than this.”

Among the apparent victims of Madoff were many Jewish educational institutions and charitable causes that lost fortunes in his investments; they include Yeshiva University, Hadassah, the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America and the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. The Chais Family Foundation, which worked on educational projects in Israel, was recently forced to shut down because of losses in Madoff investments. Many of Madoff’s individual investors were Jewish and supported Jewish causes, apparently drawn to him precisely because of his own communal involvement and because he radiated the comfortable sense of being one of them.

“The Jewish world is not going to be the same for a while,” said Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky of Congregation Ansche Chesed in New York.

Jews are also grappling with the implications of Madoff’s deeds for their public image, what one rabbi referred to as the “shanda factor,” using the Yiddish term for an embarrassing shame or disgrace. As Bradley Burston, a columnist for haaretz.com, the English-language Web site of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote on Dec. 17: “The anti-Semite’s new Santa is Bernard Madoff. The answer to every Jew-hater’s wish list. The Aryan Nation at its most delusional couldn’t have come up with anything to rival this.”

The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement that Madoff’s arrest had prompted an outpouring of anti-Semitic comments on Web sites around the world, most repeating familiar tropes about Jews and money. Abraham Foxman, the group’s national director, said that canard went back hundreds of years, but he noted that anti-Semites did not need facts to be anti-Semitic.

“We’re not immune from having thieves and people who engage in fraud,” Foxman said in an interview, disputing any notion that Madoff should be seen as emblematic. “Why, because he happens to be Jewish, he should have a conscience?”

He added that Madoff’s victims extended well beyond the Jewish community.

In addition to theft, the Torah discusses another kind of stealing, geneivat da’at, the Hebrew term for deception or stealing someone’s mind. “In the rabbinic mind-set, he’s guilty of two sins: one is theft, and the other is deception,” said Burton Visotzky, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

“The fact that he stole from Jewish charities puts him in a special circle of hell,” Rabbi Visotzky added. “He really undermined the fabric of the Jewish community, because it’s built on trust. There is a wonderful rabbinic saying — often misapplied — that all Jews are sureties for one another, which means, for instance, that if a Jew takes a loan out, in some ways the whole Jewish community guarantees it.”

Several rabbis said they were reminded of Esau, a figure of mistrust in the Bible. According to a rabbinic interpretation, Esau, upon embracing his brother Jacob after 20 years apart, was actually frisking him to see what he could steal. “The saying goes that, when Esau kisses you,” Rabbi Visotzky said, “check to make sure your teeth are still there.”

Rabbi Kalmanofsky said he was struck by reports that Madoff had tried to give bonus payments to his employees just before he was arrested, that he was moved to do something right even as he was about to be charged with doing so much wrong. “The small-scale thought for people who work for him amidst this large-scale fraud — what is the dissonance between that sense of responsibility and the gross sense of irresponsibility?” he said.

In a recent sermon, Rabbi Kalmanofsky described Madoff as the antithesis of true piety.

“I said, what it means to be a religious person is to be terrified of the possibility that you’re going to harm someone else,” he said.

Rabbi Kalmanofsky said Judaism had highly developed mechanisms for not letting people control money without ample checks and balances. When tzedakah, or charity, is collected, it must be done so in pairs. “These things are supposed to be done in the public eye,” Rabbi Kalmanofsky said, “so there is a high degree of confidence that people are behaving in honorable ways.”

While the Madoff affair has resonated powerfully among Jews, some say it actually stands for a broader dysfunction in the business world. “The Bernie Madoff story has become a Jewish story,” said Rabbi Jennifer Krause, the author of “The Answer: Making Sense of Life, One Question at a Time,” “but I do see it in the much greater context of a human drama that is playing out in sensationally terrible ways in America right now.”

“The Talmud teaches that a person who only looks out for himself and his own interests will eventually be brought to poverty,” Rabbi Krause added. “Unfortunately, this is the metadrama of what’s happening in our country right now. When you have too many people who are only looking out for themselves and they forget the other piece, which is to look out for others, we’re brought to poverty.”

According to Jewish tradition, the last question people are asked when they meet God after dying is, “Did you hope for redemption?”

Rabbi Wolpe said he did not believe Madoff could ever make amends.

“It is not possible for him to atone for all the damage he did,” the rabbi said, “and I don’t even think that there is a punishment that is commensurate with the crime, for the wreckage of lives that he’s left behind. The only thing he could do, for the rest of his life, is work for redemption that he would never achieve.”

5-minute Guide to Gaza

2 Comments

Get fast facts about the desperate situation facing children and their families in Gaza.

Caught in the conflict between Israel and Hamas are the families of Gaza. Here is a quick summary of the challenges faced by many Gazan children and their families.

Minute 1: Gaza’s History

  • The Gaza Strip is a sliver of towns, villages and farmland at the southeast end of the Mediterranean. It’s located between Israel to the north and east, and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to the south.
  • Gaza city, the region’s capital, has been continuously inhabited for more than 3,000 years and was a crossroads of ancient civilizations.
  • The Israeli military occupied Gaza from 1967-2005.
  • Today, more than 40 per cent of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are refugees, many of whom live in crowded camps.
  • An 18-month blockade by Israel has driven most families in Gaza into dire poverty. Closed borders and restricted movement has hampered aid from reaching those in need.

Minute 2: Socio-economic Conditions

  • 49.1 per cent of Gazans are unemployed.
  • More than 50 per cent of families in Gaza live below the poverty line.
  • Most Gazans live on less than $2 a day

Minute 3: Food and Water

  • Socio-economic conditions in Gaza, which is subject to severe restrictions, have deteriorated sharply, causing nearly 80 per cent of Gaza’s residents to rely on food aid.
  • 46 per cent of all Palestinians are either food insecure or in danger of becoming so.
  • In Beit Lahya, North Gaza, most households have access to water, but the quality is so poor that 95 per cent have to buy drinking water.

Minute 4: Gaza’s Children

  • More than half of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are children.
  • 50,000 children in Gaza are malnourished. About half of children under two are anemic and 70 per cent have vitamin A deficiency. Current malnutrition rates rival levels seen in drought-stricken regions of Africa
  • Nearly half of all students in the Palestinian territories have seen their school besieged by troops, and more than 10 per cent have witnessed the killing of a teacher in school.

Minute 5: World Vision’s Work in Gaza

  • There are two World Vision communities in Gaza.
  • World Vision supports 23,893 children in the West Bank and Gaza, including 6,000 children sponsored by Canadians.

by World Vision Canada
Please donate now to World Vision’s relief efforts in conflict ridden regions.

Israel’s Sonic Booms Terrifies Gaza Children

Leave a comment

Deafening Sound Considered Retaliation for Palestinian Attacks
By WILF DINNICK, Dec. 29, 2005

It’s Israel’s latest weapon: Without notice, an Israeli jet fighter flies low over the densely populated Gaza Strip, breaking the sound barrier.

The massive sonic boom often breaks windows, shakes entire apartment buildings and terrifies the people of Gaza.

Shaul Mofaz, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Olmert

Just about every night for the last five months, 10-year-old Basma Abid Adiam has had trouble sleeping.

Her father says during the day she often seems distant. Basma’s problems started when the Israeli air force began breaking the sound barrier almost nightly over her home.

On the fourth floor of her family’s apartment building, surrounded by her brothers and sisters, Basma said shyly, “We are afraid when we hear the boom. I wet my bed. During the day when we go to school, we are afraid and try to hide.”

An international activist waves to Palestinians after arriving to Gaza in an attempt to break an Israeli blockade August 23, 2008. Israel said on Saturday it would allow seafaring activists seeking to challenge its blockade on the Gaza Strip to enter the Hamas-controlled territory. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

Responding to Rocket Attacks Against Israelis

Since Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip last September, a small group of Palestinian militants has been using the northern Gaza area to launch homemade rockets at Israel.

The Palestinian authority has either been unable or unwilling to stop the attacks. The Israel army says it has to take action.

The almost nightly sonic booms are the Israeli air force’s attempt to turn the Palestinian population against the militants in Gaza and help stop the attacks.

Targeting innocent civilians violates the Geneva Conventions. Both Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups have asked the Israeli High Court to stop the air force from this practice.

Dr. Eyad Sarraj, a psychiatrist in Gaza, says it is the children who are harmed the most.

“For children under the age of 6, large noise means danger, a danger to life,” he said. “This is definitely a form of collective punishment, which under international law is prohibited and considered a war crime.”

An activist tosses roses into the sea as part of a memorial service in memory of 14 Palestinian fishermen killed since the Israeli siege of Gaza and 34 U.S. sailors killed by Israeli fire during an attack against the USS Liberty 41 years ago in the Cypriot port of Larnaca on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008. About 40 activists from 16 countries will set sail aboard the boats from the Mediterranean island for the estimated 30-hour trip to the Palestinian territory. They say they will "non-violently" resist any attempts by Israeli authorities to arrest them. From AP Photo by PHILIPPOS CHRISTOU.

But Rannan Gissim, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, defends the tactic. “The inconvenience that it causes the Palestinian population cannot be measured against the question of life or death for Israelis on the other side.”

Moving on to ‘stage-two Zionism’ – Zionism Version 2.0

Leave a comment

‘Make a decision – are you citizens of Israel, or of the Palestinian Authority?” Yisrael Beitenu MK David Rotem challenged the Arab citizens of Israel in a recent Israeli news interview. Sadly, on the eve of Israel’s 60th celebration of independence, ongoing Israeli policy is pushing almost one-fifth of our citizenry – the Arab Israelis, or Palestinian citizens of Israel – into the corner of choosing between being Israelis or being Palestinians; when, in fact, they are both. This impossible choice plagues not only the million Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel – living in Ramle, Lod, the Galilee and the Negev. Rather, it poses an existential dilemma to the basic vision of our country.

I IMMIGRATED to Israel, in 1980, to be part of building a society of which I, a liberal Jew from America, could be proud. Often, I am proud of being an Israeli. When my kids and I push through the Hebrew Book Week crowds, eagerly choosing from among thousands of works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, written in a language that was unspoken 100 years ago. When I go to my Kupat Holim HMO in Jerusalem, and my doctor is Armenian, our pediatrician is a Mizrahi Jew, and the eye doctor is a Russian immigrant. When I walk through the Knesset, and see ultra-Orthodox MK Eli Yishai, secular-Jewish MK Zahava Gal-on, and Muslim Arab MK Jamal Zahalka – all legislating for the State of Israel.

Today, Israel stands among the developed nations as a world leader in health care and technology. There is a lot to be proud of in Israel. A lot to be ashamed of, as well.

In the Negev, the Israeli government continues to refuse 70,000 Beduin citizens the right to settle on lands they have inhabited for centuries. In Israel’s mixed Jewish-Arab cities, building permits are denied to rehabilitate Arab homes, while adjacent Jewish neighborhoods flourish. In the Galilee, rather than investing in developing Arab towns, the government continues to constrict their lands in order to expand Jewish towns. As a result, in modern, successful Israel, over 50% of Israeli Arab families live under the poverty line.

SIXTY YEARS ago, the young State of Israel, using the Absentee Property Law, appropriated hundreds of thousands of dunams of land, owned by Arabs who had fled their homes – in the Galilee, the Negev, the mixed cities of Ramle, Lod, Jaffa, Haifa and Acco. Over the coming decades massive government (and international Jewish) investment gave birth to scores of new Jewish development towns, kibbutzim and moshavim throughout the country – consolidating possession of the land. Meanwhile, the Arab towns and neighborhoods that remained continued to be restricted, receiving little public investment, and facing labyrinthine planning systems designed to limit their development, or even re-allocate their remaining lands.

In 2008, this ethnic approach – draconian, yet necessary in the 1950s and 1960s – still dominates national land use and development policy in Israel. Today, if we continue this approach to building the “Jewish democratic state” we doom ourselves to a non-democratic state, known to the world as “Jewish.” But such a state will not be Jewish in ways of which we can be proud.

the gaza strip occupied terrorities 2003 map

AFTER 60 years, it is time to re-design our current path, with the aim of building a society that fully belongs to both its Jewish and Arab citizens. This aim is not only just; it is in the overall Israeli interest. It also affects, and is affected by, any effort to achieve a two-state solution.

First, despite Yisrael Beitenu’s demand to choose, Arab citizens of Israel are Palestinians. In some cases, they are the sisters or cousins of those who left in 1948, who are now living in Jordan, in Lebanon, and in Gaza. In all cases, one million Palestinian citizens of Israel maintain a constant balancing act – between their identification with their Israeli citizenship, and their identification with their Palestinian peoplehood. When their attempts to build a legal home or develop their neighborhood are rebuffed, their identification with Israel weakens. When their country bombs or shoots their people the balancing act becomes intolerable.

Second, failure in building a two-state future increases the national conflict among citizens inside Israel. Since the beginning of the Oslo process in 1993, until its violent interruption in October 2000, most Arab citizens of Israel sought their own civic aspirations in achieving equality in the state in which they lived – Israel. They sought, for their stateless Palestinian brethren, a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

As the prospect of a Palestinian state dims, and Israeli government policies and proclamations continue seeking to “Judaize” the Galilee and the Negev, Arab citizens of Israel turn increasingly to the idea of achieving Palestinian self-determination within the State of Israel. The more that mainstream politicians regard Arab citizens as a foreign element to be contained and later jettisoned in a “land swap,” the more these same citizens withdraw from participation in Israeli democracy, and seek their future through increased autonomy – as a national minority within Israel.

AS WE celebrate Israel’s 60th birthday, we need to make a paradigm shift, and to re-envision our society. Sixty years after the founding of the state, we must declare an end to stage one of Zionism – state-building – and move to stage two of society-building. We need to redefine our Israeli civic enterprise, not as a Jewish State, but as a Jewish Homeland, in a state with shared citizenship. Otherwise, in clinging to the visions that have guided Israel in the past, we will destroy what has been built.

Israel – within its pre-1967 lines – is a shared home. It is a Homeland for the Jewish people; but it also a home for the descendants of the Arabs who were living here and became citizens in 1948. Over these 60 years they, too, have worked, paid taxes, and built their future and their children’s future here in the land of their birth.

At the same time, if our Homeland is to be genuinely democratic, with a Jewish majority, a viable Palestinian Homeland must be established alongside ours – with its own Palestinian majority and law of return for Palestinians. As Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the Annapolis conference in November 2007: without the two-state solution, Israel is “finished.” As long as only one state exists in this Land (between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River), our Jewish national home will not be sustainable. Sixty years after achieving statehood, our national home awaits this completion.

The immediate steps on the path to this vision are clear. Jettison the settlement enterprise – both within the Green Line (“Judaizing” the Galilee, the Negev, and the mixed cities of Ramle, Jaffa, Acre and Lod), as well as beyond it (in east Jerusalem and the West Bank). Dismantle institutional discrimination – particularly in land-use, planning, and resource allocation – and develop the country for all citizens equally. Teach Hebrew and Arabic as the official languages they are; and teach the histories, narratives and poetry of both peoples in our schools. Pursue “complete equality of social and political rights to all inhabitants” – as proposed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

After 60 years of independence, it is time to recognize that an Israel that attempts to neglect, dispossess or exclude its Arab citizens is not Jewish; and is not sustainable. It is time to stop defining the Jewishness of the state by the amount of land controlled by Jewish towns or citizens, but by the justice of our society. It is time to be guided by the vision of Israel as a decent, fair, democratic society for all Israelis -Arab and Jewish – as we pursue a two-state solution that will allow national fulfillment for both peoples.

The writer won the 2002 Prize of the Speaker of the Knesset for Contributing to the Quality of Life in Israel – for founding and co-directing the Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development. She is currently writing a book based on 25 years of experience in the field of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel.

This article can also be read at

http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1208870524513&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Another Israeli American Sponsorship Shoah of Force in Gaza

Leave a comment

‘Someone planning new holocaust’

Thousands of Israeli Arabs protest Gaza operation; Monitoring Committee Chairman warns of ‘new holocaust’; Knesset Member Zahalka says Arab community infuriated, slams ‘madness’ displayed by Israel’s leaders

Thousands of people, including Arab-Israeli Knesset members, marched in the streets of the northern town of Umm al-Fahm Tuesday evening to protest “Israel’s crimes” and the “massacre,” as they characterized it, committed by the IDF against Gaza’s civilian population.

line divider white

The protestors were carrying PLO and black flags, as well as signs such as “Say no to killing and no to starvation of the Palestinian people.”

“Take note: Someone is planning a new holocaust in Gaza,” said Higher Arab Monitoring Committee Shawki Khatib in his speech. “We will not stand idle in the face of the blood spilling in Gaza, the blood of our children and women; we’re one body. The massacre in Gaza shall end and the occupation shall run away from there.”

Khatib also slammed the Arab world for failing to express its support for Gaza residents.

“They’re not criticizing. They’re embarrassed to even talk,” he said. “Israeli leaders should learn from history – there are no forceful solutions.”

Arab-Israelis are infuriated over Israel’s operation in Gaza, Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka said during the protest rally.

“The Arab public is angry at the Israeli government, which is committing war crimes in Gaza and threatening to continue them,” he said. “Olmert’s and Barak’s madness must be stopped. If they continue refusing a ceasefire, it should be forced upon them in order to spare the blood of innocents.”

line divider white

‘Catastrophic plans’

Meanwhile Knesset Member Mohammad Barakeh the demonstration was held to protest the “prime minister’s and defense minister’s catastrophic plans.”

“The Arab population will not remain silent. This is just one protest in a series of demonstrations held across the country as of Friday,” he said. “We feel discontent among the Arab-Palestinian population in Israel.”

In an emergency session held Sunday by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, participants decided to formulate a proposal for a Palestinian national unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah. The meeting, which was attended by most Arab Knesset members, dealt with the importance of unity among different Palestinian factions in the face of IDF operations in the Gaza Strip.

First Dehumanization, then War, and then the Holocaust

Leave a comment

Dehumanization

According to Philip G. Zimbardo;

“At the core of evil is the process of dehumanization by which certain other people or collectives of them, are depicted as less than human, as non comparable in humanity or personal dignity to those who do the labeling. Prejudice employs negative stereotypes in images or verbally abusive terms to demean and degrade the objects of its narrow view of superiority over these allegedly inferior persons. Discrimination involves the actions taken against those others based on the beliefs and emotions generated by prejudiced perspectives.

Dehumanization is one of the central processes in the transformation of ordinary, normal people into indifferent or even wanton perpetrators of evil. Dehumanization is like a “cortical cataract” that clouds one’s thinking and fosters the perception that other people are less than human. It makes some people come to see those others as enemies deserving of torment, torture, and even annihilation.

In this section, we will examine three forms that dehumanization has taken: Nazi Comic Books against the Jews; Faces of the Enemy—world-wide propaganda images of the “enemy,” and “trophy photos” of American citizens posing with African Americans who had been lynched or burned alive—and then portrayed in post cards mailed to family and friends.”

Just as the Germans were prepared to accept Jews as the enemy from within, so to now Americans are being prepared to wake up to the staged Muslim threat. Ironically one of the writers, contributing to fueling this fire, is himself a Jew – Daniel Pipes. He has expended a great deal of energy in fear mongering and his efforts area really beginning to pay off. The Muslim Shoah (Holocaust) – a myth or a coming reality?

9-11 Report Commissioner Zelikow Admits War was for “threat against Israel”

1 Comment

The Israel Lobby (full text)

Key 9/11 Commission Staffer Held Secret Meetings With Rove, Scaled Back Criticisms of White House

“Third. The unstated threat. And here I criticise the [Bush] administration a little, because the argument that they make over and over again is that this is about a threat to the United States. And then everybody says: ‘Show me an imminent threat from Iraq to America. Show me, why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us?’ So I’ll tell you what I think the real threat is, and actually has been since 1990. It’s the threat against Israel. And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it’s not a popular sell.


dotted line 425

Links;

dotted line 425

Philip D. Zelikow

What is a Jew in Catholic’s Clothing? Still a Sarkozy

Leave a comment

Sarkozy is criticized for Holocaust memorial plan

By Elaine Sciolino, Friday, February 15, 2008, IHT

PARIS: President Nicolas Sarkozy dropped the intellectual bombshell at the end of a dinner speech to representatives of France’s Jewish community: Beginning next autumn, every French 10-year-old will have to learn the life story of one of the 11,000 French children killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

“Nothing is more moving, for a child, than the story of a child his own age, who has the same games, the same joys and the same hopes as he, but who, at the dawn of the 1940s, had the bad fortune to be defined as a Jew,” Sarkozy said in the speech Wednesday night. He added that every French child should be “entrusted with the memory of a French child-victim of the Holocaust.”

Sarkozy wrapped his plan in the cloak of religion, blaming the wars and violence of the last century on an “absence of God” and calling the Nazi belief in a hierarchy of races “radically incompatible with Judeo-Christian monotheism.”

Sarkozy

Education Minister Xavier Darcos explained later that the aim of the plan was to “create an identification between a child of today and one of the same age who was deported and gassed.”

The announcement, which comes as Sarkozy is already under fire for his frequent praise of God and religion, has touched off an even fiercer wave of protest.

Some psychiatrists and educators predict that requiring students to identify with a Holocaust victim will traumatize them and unfairly burden them with the guilt of their forefathers. Secularists accuse Sarkozy of subverting both France’s iron-clad separation of church and state and the republican ideal of a single, nonreligious identity for all.

Political opponents dismiss the plan as only his latest misguided idea unveiled without reflection or consultation. Some historians call the move a manipulation of the past that could distort France’s history of collaboration with the Nazis and lead to an escalation of personal remembrances of victims of other horrors of history.

“Every day the president throws out a new unhappy idea with no coherence,” said Pascal Bruckner, a philosopher. “But this last one is truly obscene, the very opposite of spirituality. Let’s judge it for what it is: a crazy proposal of the president, not the word of the Gospel.”

The initiative has also pitted Jew against Jew.

“It is unimaginable, unbearable, dramatic and, above all, unjust,” Simone Veil, honorary president of the Foundation for the Memory of the Holocaust and a Holocaust survivor, said on the Web site of the magazine L’Express. “You cannot inflict this on little 10-year-olds! You cannot ask a child to identify with a dead child. This history is much too heavy to carry.”

Veil was in the audience when Sarkozy spoke, and said that when she heard his words, “My blood turned to ice.”

But Serge Klarsfeld, the Jewish historian who has devoted his life to recording the names and biographies of France’s Holocaust victims, praised the president for his “courage.”

“This is the crowning glory of long and arduous work,” he said. “To those who say it’s too difficult for young children – that’s not true. What they see on television or in a horror film is much worse. This is not a morbid mission.”

On one level, the plan is a logical extension of Sarkozy’s sometimes sentimental and pedagogical approach to governing. Last year, he enraged politicians on the left, the biggest high school teachers’ union and some historians and teachers when he ordered all high schools in France to read a handwritten letter by a 17-year-old student who knew he was going to be executed by the Nazis for his resistance activities.

Sarkozy Jewish Award

On another level, it reflects his repeated declarations that as president he is also a “friend,” as he calls himself, of Israel. By extension, he is also a friend of France’s Jews. He is the first French president to address the annual dinner of France’s Jewish community.But there is something else. The plan comes as Sarkozy is trying to shatter another taboo in French intellectual life: religion. In a way, it reflects his deeply held, if iconoclastic, belief that religious values have an important place in everyday French society.

When Sarkozy was made an Honorary Canon of the Basilica of Saint John of Lateran in Rome last December, he proposed a “positive secularism” that “does not consider religions a danger, but an asset.” He was even more provocative in declaring that “the schoolteacher will never be able to replace the priest or the pastor” in teaching the difference between good and evil.

In Saudi Arabia last month, he infused his speech with more than a dozen references to God, who, he said, “liberates” man. He also declared last month that it was a mistake to delete the reference to “Europe’s Christian roots” from the European Constitution.”

In France, where religion is regarded as a private matter, Sarkozy vaunts his religious identity, referring publicly to his Jewish grandfather and wearing his Catholicity on his sleeve.

“I am of Catholic culture, Catholic tradition, Catholic belief, even if my religious practice is episodic,” he wrote in a book of essays in 2004. “I consider myself a member of the Catholic Church.”

But Sarkozy’s personal conduct seems to contradict his declaration of Catholic spirituality. Twice divorced, three times married (despite adherence to a religion that still abhors divorce), he has so alienated the country that an OpinionWay poll published Friday concluded that an overwhelming 82 percent of the French disapprove of his behavior.

That level of disapproval seems to have made Sarkozy vulnerable in whatever he does these days, including his Holocaust initiative.

Teachers defended the current approach to the Holocaust in French schools. Since 2002, 10-year-olds have studied the Nazi extermination of the Jews as a crime against humanity.

Older children watch films on the Holocaust, visit Holocaust museums and memorials and take field trips to concentration camps. Schools where students were taken away for deportation hang plaques in their memory.

“The Holocaust has to be put in the context of the rise of the Nazis and the war, not just emotion and dramatic spectacle,” said Gilles Moindrot, secretary general of the largest primary school teachers’ union. “If you do this with the memory of individual Jews, you’d have to do it with the victims of slavery or the wars of religion.”

Some of Sarkozy’s other political foes accuse him of trying to put his personal stamp everywhere.

“One day he is giving us sermons about God,” Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a Socialist senator, said on LCI television on Friday, adding, “Now he has suddenly turned himself into a teacher.”

Other analysts blamed the confessional approach of the United States for infecting Sarkozy’s thinking.

“Listen, it’s in the air of the times,” Regis Debray, a philosopher and author, said Friday on France Inter radio. “There is a religious sentimentality, a pretty vague religiousness, let’s say, in the world of show business, in the world of business, that comes from America. It’s the neoconservative wave of the born-agains.”

The anti-racism group MRAP accused Sarkozy of chauvinism by singling out French victims of the Holocaust for study and excluding other targeted groups like the gypsies.

holocaust child

Sarkozy’s advisers acknowledged that he came up with his Holocaust plan for schoolchildren without any formal consultation. In the face of all the criticism, however, Sarkozy vowed to proceed with it.

“It is ignorance – not knowledge – that leads to the repetition of abominable situations,” he said during a visit to Perigueux in central France on Friday, adding, “You do not traumatize children by giving them the gift of the memory of a country.”

Sarkozy Thumbs Up to Holocaust Education

Links:

UN officer reported Israeli war crimes before deadly bombing: widow

Leave a comment

UN officer reported Israeli war crimes before deadly bombing: widow

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2008 | 10:03 PM ET

CBC News

A United Nations military observer sent e-mails home to Canada reporting that Israel was bombing schools and waging “a campaign of terror against the Lebanese people” shortly before he was killed by an Israeli bomb in Lebanon, said his widow.

Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener of Kingston, Ont., a member of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was one of four UN military observers who died when the Israeli Defence Forces bombed a marked United Nations post on July 25, 2006.

Cynthia Hess-von Kruedener said she believes her husband, Paeta, and three other UN observers were specifically targeted when their post was bombed by Israel.

Cynthia Hess-von Kruedener said she believes her husband, Paeta, and three other UN observers were specifically targeted when their post was bombed by Israel.

(Submitted by Cynthia Hess-von Kruedener) Cynthia Hess-von Kruedener said her husband’s mission was to report on the hostilities in the area and she believes that is why Israeli forces attacked the Israeli United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) post, despite Israel’s claims that the bombing was accidental.

“Obviously they were unhappy with what they were observing. Maybe that post was in the way as well,” she said. “I know my husband was reporting war crimes. And I guess they don’t want to deal with that.”

Hess-von Kruedener said she is speaking out this week because a Canadian Forces board of inquiry report issued recently about the bombing has left questions unanswered.

The report, released Jan. 31, blamed the Israeli Defence Forces for the incident, but also found the Israeli military refused to provide documents other than a summary of its own internal investigation, “which lacked sufficient detail to explore certain issues to their fullest extent.” The report said the UN also refused to provide documents requested for the investigation.

Israeli government spokesman Ariyeh Mekel said Wednesday from Jerusalem that Israel is examining the report, and has no response yet. Mekel also offered Israel’s condolences to the families of the four dead men.

Hess-von Kruedener said she is not satisfied with the response of the Canadian government, which she alleges did not protest Israel’s refusal to co-operate in the probe.

“Well you expect your government to step in and do the right thing, but that doesn’t seem to be the case,” she said. “So we are just … We don’t know where to turn. We’re just beside ourselves I guess.”

PM wants to get to the bottom of things

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said shortly after the attack that he did not believe Israel deliberately targeted the UN post, but would ask Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “for his full co-operation in getting to the bottom of this.”

Israel said the attack was an accident, but took responsibility for errors that reportedly led to the bombing.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Hess-von Kruedener called on the House of Commons to debate the findings of the board of inquiry report through the foreign minister, and take the issue to the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

She also asked the public to get involved by writing their MPs.

“I know that Paeta would also want the international community to speak up,” she said. “I’m only one voice … I definitely need other people to speak out and say something needs to happen.”

Terrorist Army Israeli War Criminals IDF Israeli Defense Forces

Links;

The Muslim Jesus – The Prophet Isa (peace be upon him)

1 Comment

The issue of whether Jesus is seen as a divinity is also considered. Muslims dispute the Christian idea of Jesus’ divinity and the belief that he was the embodiment of God in the flesh.
Islam and Christianity have been portrayed as mortal enemies for 1400 years. Locked in combat until the end of time when finally on the day of judgement God will announce the winner.

This so called ‘clash of civilisations’ has defined Christian and Muslim relations from the wars of the crusades to the current ‘war on terror’.

But there is another story. It’s a story that revolves around one man. The man whom a billion Muslims and 1.2 billion Christians call the Messiah but who is seen by both in very different ways – Jesus.

The Muslim Jesus uses the Quran and other Islamic texts to explore the differing ways in which Christian and Muslim faiths both acknowledge Jesus.

Scholars, teachers, parents, rappers, poets and historians come together for the one hour special narrated by Melvin Bragg.

The differences between the Quran and Bible’s portrayal of Jesus are explored in detail, from the role of Mary and his death and resurrection, to the coming of the Anti-Christ.

One of the most fundamental differences is that the Quran calls Jesus ‘Esa’ and refers to him as the son of Mary whereas the bible refers to him as the son of God.

The Muslim Jesus looks in detail at the role of Mary who has a whole chapter dedicated to her in the Quran. The story of Jesus’ birth is narrated in vivid detail in the Quran. According to the scriptures, she was alone in the desert when she gave birth to Jesus.

As in the Bible an angel tells Mary she is pregnant despite being a Virgin. But the story of what follows then differs completely. In the Quran’s version there’s no stable, no manger and no Joseph.

In the Bible Mary’s role is limited to the passive mother of Christ but the Quran gives accounts of her ancestry, her birth, her childhood in the Temple of Solomon and as mother of Jesus.

She is portrayed in Islam as the model of the perfect woman, a symbol of purity that Muslim women can admire whereas in the bible Mary’s role is limited to the passive mother of Christ.

The miracles performed during Jesus’ life also causes debate among Christians and Muslims but it’s the Bible and the Quran’s conflicting accounts of his death that go to the heart of the differences between the two faiths.

In the bible Jesus is betrayed by Judas and crucified by the Romans. The Quran says this only appeared to happen.

“In the Christian narrative the most central and fundamental point of Christianity is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ but Islam basically denies that. The Quran states that it was made to appear that Jesus was crucified as when the Roman’s captured Jesus God organized a rescue operation,” says Muslim scholar Hamza Yusuf Hanson.

Andy Bannister from the London School of Theology says that Christians disagree with that view. “One or two secular Scholars have said that the crucifixion of Jesus is one of the most historically verifiable events of the first century. We have such good evidence for it.

So there is absolutely no way the first Christians would have wanted to invent that story. The crucifixion was about the most embarrassingly and the most socially disreputable way you could die in the first century. So to claim that for your Lord and your Master is never going to happen.”

The issue of whether Jesus is seen as a divinity is also considered. Muslims dispute the Christian idea of Jesus’ divinity and the belief that he was the embodiment of God in the flesh.

“If Jesus was God then who was supporting the world while he was supposed to be dead? Or if he was God then who was he praying to?” asks Ahmad Thomson, co author of Jesus Prophet of Islam.

Both Muslims and Christians believe that Jesus will return to earth to restore justice to the world. They also believe that before he returns, an evil person or system called the Antichrist will have gained influence over the planet.

The differing accounts of the Antichrist represent another point of disagreement between the bible and the Quran.

Both Muslims and Christians agree that Jesus will return to defeat the Antichrist, referred to by Muslims as Da Jar.

But whereas the Bible uses metaphorical language to describe the event, Islamic tradition gives a blow by blow account of exactly what will happen when Jesus comes back.

According to the Quran the world will become filled with oppression and injustice and Christ will return in an Eastern part of Damascus, his hands resting on the shoulders of two angels.

He will pray behind the Muslim Imam regarded as being the Kalif (Muslim leader on Earth) and together they will take part in the battle against the Antichrist. According to Muslims, the moment Da Jar sees Jesus he will begin to dissolve like salt dissolves in water.

Although the programme looks at the differences between the two faiths not all Muslims and Christians see themselves as locked in disagreement.

Adam Williamson and Jamie Clark are good friends. Adam is a Muslim and Jamie is a Christian and despite having different views on Jesus, they often find common ground.

“I do think there is a lot of truth you know about Jesus in the Quran. But I am not looking for where they contradict each other, I am looking for where they don’t contradict each other because that is where the truth is I feel.”

Adam agrees: “It takes a certain amount of arrogance for me to go to Jamie and, and start telling him he’s going on the wrong path and vice versa.

It’s not, it’s not my place. “We’ve got to admit to a certain extent we are all fumbling around you know looking for some form of truth.”

Hamza Yusuf Hanson sums up: “The Prophet Mohammad’s most important concern in engaging people who were hostile to him was how I can turn this enemy into a friend? And that only comes from love.

That comes from a concern. And I think the centrality of love in the Christian tradition is a very beautiful quality and it is something that many Muslims have forgotten about their own faith.

And I think there is an immense amount that Muslims can learn from Jesus. I also think there is an immense amount that Christians can learn from Mohammad.”

Sunday 19 August 2007 11:15pm – 12:15am on ITV1