Yom Hashoa – Gedenktag für die Opfer und Helden des Holocaust

April 30, 2008

Heute Abend beginnt Yom Hashoa, Israels nationaler Gedenktag für die Opfer des Holocaust und die Helden des Widerstandes. Er wird jedes Jahr nach dem hebräischen Kalender am 27. Nissan begangen.

Ursprünglich war als Datum der 15. Nissan vorgeschlagen worden, der Tag des Aufstands im Warschauer Ghetto (19. April 1943). Dieser Vorschlag wurde aber schließlich verworfen, da zum selben Zeitpunkt das Pessach-Fest stattfindet. Das jetzige Datum liegt genau eine Woche vor dem Gedenktag an die für den Staat Israel gefallenen Soldaten und acht Tage vor dem israelischen Unabhängigkeitstag. 1959 wurde Yom Hashoa vom ersten Ministerpräsidenten des Staates Israel, David Ben-Gurion, eingeführt.

Zur Eröffnungszeremonie am Abend werden in der Jerusalemer Holocaust-Gedenkstätte  Yad Vashem sechs  Fackeln entzündet, die symbolisch für die sechs Millionen jüdischer Opfer stehen. Am nächsten Morgen heulen im gesamten Land um 10 Uhr für zwei Minuten die Sirenen. Der öffentliche Nahverkehr und normalerweise auch alle anderen Fahrzeuge halten an, die Passanten bleiben schweigend stehen.

Während des Gedenktages Yom Hashoa bleiben alle Vergnügungsstätten geschlossen, im Funk und Fernsehen laufen keine Unterhaltungssendungen, sondern Trauermusik und Dokumentationen zum Holocaust. Alle Flaggen wehen auf Halbmast.


Freedom of the Press 2008 Survey Release

April 29, 2008

Freedom House‘s 2008 report on press freedom shows a clear decline in both authoritarian countries and established democracies.

PRESS RELEASE

Washington D.C., April 29, 2008 – Global press freedom underwent a clear decline in 2007, with journalists struggling to work in increasingly hostile environments in almost every region in the world, according to a new survey released today by Freedom House. The decline in press freedom – which occurred in authoritarian countries and established democracies alike – continues a six-year negative trend.

Freedom House will formally present findings from Freedom of the Press 2008: A Global Survey of Media Independence today at the Newseum in Washington. Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor will also unveil the Map of Press Freedom 2008, a central exhibit featured in the Newseum’s Time Warner World News Gallery.

While the survey indicated that setbacks in press freedom outnumbered advances two to one globally, there was some improvement in the region with the least amount of press freedom: the Middle East and North Africa. The survey attributes the gains in the Middle East and North Africa to a growing number of journalists who were willing to challenge government restraints, a pushback trend seen in other regions as well.

“For every step forward in press freedom last year, there were two steps back,” said Windsor. “When press freedom is in retreat, it is an ominous sign that restrictions on other freedoms may soon follow. However, journalists in many countries of the world are pushing the boundaries, crossing the red-lines, demonstrating commitment and courage against great odds and we are seeing a greater global flow of information than ever before.”

Out of 195 countries and territories, 72 (37 percent) were rated Free, 59 (30 percent) Partly Free, and 64 (33 percent) were Not Free, a decline from 2006. However, the study found that declines in individual countries and territories were often larger than in years past.   Key regional findings include:   

  • Central and Eastern Europe/ Former Soviet Union: This region showed the largest region-wide setback, with Russia, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan, and several Central European countries, among others, showing declines. Only 18 percent of the region’s citizens live in environments with Free media.
  • Middle East and North Africa:  More unrestricted access to new media such as satellite television and the internet boosted press freedom regionally. Egyptian journalists showed an increased willingness to cross press freedom ‘red lines,’ moving the country into the Partly Free category.
  • Asia-Pacific: Restrictions on media coverage were imposed in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, and Vietnam’s government cracked down on dissident writers.
  • Americas: Guyana’s status shifted from Free to Partly Free, while Mexico’s score deteriorated by a further three points because of increased violence against journalists and impunity surrounding attacks on media.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: The region accounted for three of the year’s five status changes: Benin declined from Free to Partly Free, while the Central African Republic and Niger moved into the Not Free category. Political conflict and misuse of libel laws were key factors behind a number of country declines.
  • Western Europe: The region continued to have the highest level of press freedom worldwide, despite declines in Portugal, Malta and Turkey, the only country in the region ranked Partly Free.

The survey, released annually in advance of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, assesses the degree of print, broadcast, and internet freedom in every country in the world. The 2008 ratings are based on an assessment of the legal, political and economic environments in which journalists worked in 2007.  

“Improvements in a small number of countries were far overshadowed by a continued, relentless assault on independent news media,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Freedom House senior researcher and managing editor of the survey.

“We are particularly concerned that while abuses of press freedom continue unabated in restrictive environments such as China, threats are also apparent in countries with an established record of media freedom and in newer democracies in Central Europe and Africa.”

The key trends that led to numerical movements in the study include:  

  • Unrest and Upheaval: Media played a key role in covering coups, states of emergency and contested elections in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Georgia, and as a result, journalists became prime targets during government crackdowns.
  • Violence and Impunity: Violence against journalists and, in many cases, corresponding impunity regarding past cases of abuse was a key factor in determining press freedom in countries as diverse as Mexico, Russia and the Philippines.
  • Punitive laws: Media freedom remains seriously constrained by the presence and use of numerous laws that are used to punish critical journalists and outlets.The abuse of libel laws increased in a number of countries, most notably in Africa. Satellite television and internet-based news and networking sources are an emerging force for openness in restricted media environments as well as a key target for government control.
  • New media: The world’s worst-rated countries continue to include Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, and Turkmenistan. In 2007, Eritrea joined the ranks of these exceedingly bad performers, while a crackdown in Burma worsened that country’s already repressive media environment, leaving its score second only to that of North Korea worldwide.

Detailed information from the survey are available here and by contacting Laura Ingalls at ingalls@freedomhouse.org.


UN Arms-for-Gold Scandal

April 29, 2008

Rwanda is calling for the United Nations to investigate allegations that the UN peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo was selling arms to rebels in the region in exchange for minerals.

Read full story.


Italien – die zerrüttete Republik

April 29, 2008

Den Völkern schadet vielmehr die Habsucht der eigenen Bürger als die Raubgier der Feinde. Dieser läßt sich bisweilen ein Ziel setzen, jener aber nicht. (Niccolò Machiavelli)

In der Frankfurter Rundschau prophezeit der Soziologe und Italien-Experte Peter Wagner eine ziemlich düstere Zukunft für Italien nach der Rückkehr von Silvio Berlusconi an die Macht. Und resümiert, dass jedes Volk die Herrscher hat, die es verdient.

Francesco Guicciardini wünschte sich, noch erleben zu dürfen, dass sein Land sich zu einem wohl geordneten republikanischen Gemeinwesen entwickelt. Der Florentiner Zeitgenosse Niccolò Machiavellis ahnte aber, dass seine Lebenszeit dafür zu begrenzt sein würde. Er war auch generell allen Illusionen abgeneigt und hielt die Zukunft für wenig vorhersehbar. Insbesondere sah er die Demokratie als eine zu zerbrechliche Regierungsform an, die leicht ein Land in den Ruin treiben könnte. […] Guicciardini meinte, dass Bürger immer vom Streben nach ihrem ‘Besonderen’ angetrieben würden. Ihre persönlichen Interessen an Besitz oder Ruhm würden sie vor den Erhalt des Gemeinsamen stellen. Aus diesem Grunde sei Fortschritt in der Entwicklung von Republik und Demokratie niemals gewiss. Die italienischen Wahlen haben dies nachdrücklich bestätigt.”

Zum Artikel.


Rising financial protectionism

April 29, 2008

The Wall Street Journal reports on how rising nationalism has provoked a trade backlash and may hinder global environmental negotiations.

“Some of the world’s biggest new investors are government-run investment funds. In the Middle East and Russia, sovereign wealth funds are powered by oil revenue; in Asia, they’re fed by other export earnings. In all, the funds have a total of $3 trillion in revenue and have used the money to buy stakes in Citigroup Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and other battered Wall Street firms. While the infusions have been lauded by the U.S. Treasury and capital-short Wall Street firms, they also aroused suspicions here and internationally that the investors could have political agendas.

Now, many national governments are raising barriers against such foreign investment. The U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Hungary and Greece are proposing or enacting restrictions on investment by state-owned firms from other countries, according to a forthcoming study by the Council of Foreign Relations. China and Russia, which have sovereign wealth funds, are staking out ‘strategic sectors’ where foreign investment would be restricted, say the study’s authors, investment-law specialist David Marchick and Dartmouth economist Matthew Slaughter.”

Read full story.


UN Hears from Jewish Refugees of Arab Lands

April 28, 2008

The history of Palestinian refugees deserves international attention. So does the history of one million Jewish refugees from the Arab-Israel conflict.  Yet the United Nations has devoted countless resolutions and debates to only one side of this story, completely ignoring the other.

For the first time ever in the UN Human Rights Council, at its recently concluded session, the suffering of Jewish refugees from Arab lands was also placed on the international agenda. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Congress adopted a historic resolution recognizing that all victims of the conflict must be treated equally.

Racism and Historical Truth: Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands

UN Watch Oral Statement

Agenda Item 9: Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Racism Doudou Diène

UN Human Rights Council, 7th Session, March 19, 2008

Delivered by Regina Bublil Waldman

Thank you, Mr. President.

We thank the Special Rapporteur for his work against racism, and address two areas of his report.

Dr. Diene, in Addendum 1 you mention Libya’s treatment of ethnic minorities. In Addenda 3 and 4, you envision a multicultural society based on two principles: respect for historical truth and non-discrimination against minorities.

As a victim of Libyan discrimination, I agree: only with historical truth can we build a better future.

Today I wear my traditional ethnic dress to celebrate my heritage, but also to mourn its destruction.

One million Jews lived in the Middle East at the turn of the century. Today, less than five thousand remain.

Their plight has been ignored by the international community.

Their story is my story.

In 1948, there were thirty-six thousand Jews living in Libya. Today, there are none.

During the 1967 war between Israel and her Arab neighbors, mobs took to the streets and shouted, “Edbah el Yehud!” – “Slaughter the Jews!”

They burned my father’s warehouse and came to burn our home.

An honorable Muslim neighbor stopped them, and saved our lives.

The government ordered the expulsion of all Jews from Libya, where my family had lived for hundreds of years. They confiscated our homes and all our assets.

We were given this one-way travel document – never allowed to return.

My family was put on a bus to the airport. The bus driver got out, and tried to burn the bus with us in it. We were rescued from death by two Christian friends.

I come here today bearing no hatred — only these historical truths:

  • Jews have been an indigenous people of the Middle East for over 2,500 years.
  • On the basis of race and religion, Arab regimes subjected Jews to arbitrary arrest, confiscation of property and expulsions. This is fully documented in this report by Justice for Jews from Arab Countries.
  • The UNHCR has ruled that Jews fleeing from Arab countries were ‘bona fide’ refugees, victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Dr. Diene, your report envisions a future of tolerance and equality. Applying the principles you set forth, we trust you will examine the actions of Libya and other Middle Eastern countries that forced out their Jewish minorities.

Like in South Africa, only the acknowledgment of truth and history will lead to reconciliation.

Thank you, Mr. President.


The French Military Revolution

April 28, 2008

Newsweek International reports on France’s success in using small combat units to partner with different international military alliances.

“A year into his first term, in fact, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is using his warm relations with Washington and his military’s strong record fighting in Africa and the Balkans to help re-establish France publicly and formally as a leading player in NATO, more than four decades after President Charles de Gaulle pulled out of the alliance’s integrated command and kicked its offices out of Paris. At the same time, he’s working to put France at the fore of a separate European Union defense force and extend its influence eastward to the Persian Gulf and South Asia. And if France really wants to project itself on the world stage this way, well, it couldn’t happen at a better time. U.S. forces are stretched thin, and there are only a handful of other armies with the training, the bases, the organization and, most important, the political will to kill and die in far corners of the planet to keep local wars from emerging into global threats. The shortlist includes the Brits-and the French, and that’s about it.”

Read full story.


U.S. Justice Department says terror threat could excuse abusive interrogation

April 28, 2008

Letters obtained by the New York Times  indicate the U.S. Justice Department has told Congress that U.S. intelligence agencies trying to stop terrorist attacks may use interrogation practices that go beyond the bounds of international law.

The JURIST legal blog explores.

Read full story.


How to Make Deals with Devils

April 25, 2008

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, former Pentagon official and president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations Leslie H. Gelb writes that dealing with bad guys is part of the “foreign policy business,” and outlines how to make deals with devils. A real issue: not whether to talk to “Bad Guys”, but how?

“Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman knew well about the sins of the Soviet Union, but they cooperated with the monstrous Joseph Stalin against an even bigger monster, Adolf Hitler. (Winston Churchill was similarly unsentimental: ‘If Hitler invaded Hell,’ he reportedly said, ‘I would at least make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.’) President Richard M. Nixon was well aware of the tens of millions killed by Mao Zedong but figured that dealing with the Chinese leader would give him leverage against Moscow. Even Reagan married his condemnation of the Soviets with an all-out effort to negotiate far-reaching arms control agreements with them.”

Read full story.


Israel at 60: Reason to Celebrate!

April 25, 2008

An op-ed by David A. Harris
Executive Director of The American Jewish Committee
The Jerusalem Post, April 24, 2008

Israel is about to mark its sixtieth anniversary.

Some friends say they’re in no mood to celebrate. The timing isn’t right, they complain. The country’s political circuitry is overloaded. Danger lurks on the Gaza and Lebanon borders. Iran’s nuclear ambitions and annihilationist threats loom large. Disputes over the current peace talks with the Palestinian Authority are daily fare. Israel continues to take a beating in UN forums. The drumbeat of anti-Zionism grows louder. A fractious social climate creates long-term and seemingly insoluble fissures between Arab and Jew, not to mention Jew and Jew. And global market volatility spells trouble for the Israeli economy.

All true, perhaps. But the story mustn’t end there. Milestone anniversaries offer the chance to step back, however briefly, from the news of the moment and take stock of the larger picture. By my reckoning, Israel is quite a success story. Actually, Israel itself is nothing short of a miracle.
Think about it.

Just three years, almost to the day, after the end of the lowest point in Jewish history, the sovereign State of Israel was established. From the most vertiginous fall in the life of the Jewish people to its greatest ascent all in a matter of just over one thousand days.

Few gave the embryonic state much chance of survival. Faced with larger armies determined to eliminate the new nation in its infancy, the 650,000 Jews defended themselves and emerged victorious.

Against all the odds, they built a state. Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.

A land with pitifully few natural resources required the industry and talent of its human resources. Surrounded by forces bent on its isolation and destruction, the fledgling nation couldn’t let up its guard even for a moment. And a country defined as a home for Jews everywhere faced the challenge of absorbing millions of immigrants from the four corners of the earth, even as its infrastructure was stretched to the breaking point.

And it wasn’t just any state that was built. It was a pulsating democratic state, reflective of a country where just about everyone believes they have a Ph.D. in survival methods, leadership, and diplomacy. Through thick and thin, Israelis have benefited from free and fair elections, smooth transfers of power, an independent judiciary, a feisty press, and political parties covering the ideological gamut. No other country in Israel’s rough-and-tumble neighborhood can make similar claims.

True, the military plays a critical role in the life of a nation that couldn’t survive a single day without it, but civilians control the armed forces, not the other way around.

Israel has no oil or gas reserves. Isn’t that the reason, according to the joke, why Moses and the Jews wandered in the desert for forty years? To find the only place in the region without any energy resources.

Sixty percent of the land surface, in fact, is desert. Yet Israel has created a dynamic economy that, on a per capita basis, puts it squarely in the middle of the pack of European Union nations and, in the realm of high-tech, places it among the world’s top innovators.

All this in a nation that has never known a single moment of true peace, yet carries this unfathomable psychological burden with extraordinary resiliency and irrepressible optimism.

Imagine what it must be like to live with the Sword of Damocles hanging over a nation’s head from the get-go.

Imagine facing enemies who deny your very existence and teach contempt to children before they’re old enough to read.

Imagine adversaries who have no compunction about using women and youngsters as human shields to protect terrorists; target civilians; celebrate murder; use ambulances to transport armed gunmen and weapons; employ mentally retarded children as suicide bombers; and target their own energy suppliers so they can then accuse Israel of collective punishment.

These are, of course, the same foes who have never had an interest in solving the Palestinian refugee problem, an outgrowth of two wars triggered by the Arab world in 1948 and 1967.

Are Palestinians the first refugee population in history? Hardly. But they are surely the first refugees who, as a group, have categorically resisted resettlement, instead living for decades as wards of the international community.

Indeed, in Gaza today, years after Israel renounced any territorial claims, there continue to be refugee camps. Why? Why other than to serve as incubators for hatred that produce recruits bent on martyrdom and mayhem are there Palestinian refugee camps in Palestinian territory?

Some argue that the foundational problem of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the Israeli occupation. I beg to differ. That’s not to say the occupation, the result of Israel’s 1967 war of self-defense, isn’t a problem. Of course, it is. I don’t for a moment underestimate the difficulties resulting from it for both Palestinians and Israelis alike. But it has a potential solution a two-state solution, tried first in the Oslo Accords of 1993 and then in the Barak-Arafat-Clinton talks of 2000-1. Tragically, both failed.

The common denominator was Yasser Arafat. When the critical moments came, he made it abundantly clear that he was neither a Gandhi nor a Mandela. Jimmy Carter may think it fitting to lay a wreath at his gravesite, but, at the end of the day, Arafat was a failed leader. He could have ushered in a Palestinian state living alongside Israel. Instead, he opted to speak with a forked tongue, intoning the rhetoric of peace in English while speaking the language of armed struggle in Arabic. And when presented one last chance at the end of President Clinton’s second term, Arafat chose to declare that there never was any historical connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish people, once again denying legitimacy to the Jewish presence anywhere in Israel.

That’s been the biggest obstacle to peacemaking the failure to recognize Israel’s inherent right to exist, whatever its final borders, as a non-Arab, non-Muslim sovereign presence in the region.

Peace requires an enduring foundation of mutual respect. That will come only when Palestinian textbooks begin to describe Jews as an integral part of the Middle East, with a three thousand-year historic and spiritual connection to Jerusalem and the land, and not simply as modern-day colonialists, imperialists, or crusaders.

Israel’s journey as a state cannot be complete until peace with all its neighbors is achieved. Peace is a strategic necessity. Peace is central to the Jewish mission on earth.

Today there are peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and, more quietly, it appears, between Israel and Syria. Could there be a better birthday present for Israel than peace accords on both fronts?

Wishing for peace and achieving it, however, are quite different. For Israel, the challenges are many.

For example, world leaders can talk all they want about the need for a democratic and demilitarized Palestinian state living next to Israel, but realizing those twin goals may not be so easy. When a top American strategist was asked how to ensure demilitarization, a position he advocated, he had no answer. And given the strikingly short distances, a new Palestinian state could be in a position to wreak havoc on Israel’s population centers. Those who assert that an international force can serve as a buffer may be right up to a point, but the experience of UNIFIL in Lebanon is a sobering reminder of the limitations of peacekeeping forces. Iran and Syria smuggle weapons to Hezbollah, and UN forces largely look the other way.

But because I believe in Israel, I believe in miracles. Few could have imagined full-fledged peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan thirty-five years ago, yet today both are realities. In point of fact, had Palestinian and Syrian leaders taken a page from the late Anwar Sadat and King Hussein, who convinced Israelis that they were true men of peace, there could have been agreements long ago. Perhaps tomorrow will be different.

Meanwhile, Israel, the miracle, continues to inspire awe for its very being and for being the vibrant country it is.

No, it’s not perfect. Israel has made its share of mistakes and faces more than a few unresolved issues. Statecraft, at the end of the day, is an imprecise science no matter where it’s exercised.

But Israel operates in a context, not a vacuum. It reflects both domestic and global realities. And the vagaries of decision-making don’t bypass Israeli leaders any more than leaders of other democratic countries. Still, Israel, like other democratic societies that benefit from a robust political culture and vibrant civil society, has the self-corrective mechanisms that invite both appraisal and improvement.

At the end of the day, for me, the meaning of Israel is perhaps best encapsulated in three enduring images.

In 1991, I went to Israel at the start of the Gulf War, as Iraq fired Scud missiles at the Jewish state. During a visit to Ben-Gurion Airport, I was struck by the arrival of Soviet Jews during this tough period. They weren’t afraid to come, and Israel didn’t miss a beat in welcoming them. In other words, even as Israel faced the uncertain prospect of full-scale war with Iraq, it never faltered in its commitment to serve as a home and haven for Jews seeking a new start.

In 2000, during the so-called second intifada, I was in the northern part of Tel Aviv. I passed a construction site. On the sidewalk nearby a Palestinian Muslim laid out his rug and began his prayer ritual as he faced in the direction of Mecca. No one interfered with him in any way. Even as Palestinians elsewhere were attacking Israelis, this scene spoke volumes about Israel’s commitment to democracy and pluralism.

And in 2006, after Hezbollah started a war with a cross-border raid, an AJC delegation, the first to arrive from the U.S., visited Rambam Hospital in Haifa. The emergency room was ready to receive casualties, be they military or civilian, Arab or Jew, and it received them in droves. Elsewhere in the hospital, though, even as Hezbollah-fired missiles rained down on northern Israel, medical researchers continued their investigative work regularly interrupted by the need to rush to bomb shelters in the fields of cancer, diabetes, and stem cells.

In other words, as Hezbollah and its Iranian backers were seeking to shorten life for Israelis, Israeli scientists were seeking to extend life for all.

Yes, there is much to celebrate, starting with our good fortune to witness what countless generations before us could only dream about the sovereign State of Israel.

It makes me want to jump for joy.


Oasis Economies

April 25, 2008

A new article from the journal strategy + business says Middle Eastern oil states, particularly in the Persian Gulf, are investing the proceeds of the recent oil boom more cleverly than they did the last time they reaped such windfalls.

Read full story.


What the Petraeus Promotion Means

April 23, 2008

General David H. Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, was tapped to head Centcom, the U.S. strategic command in the Middle East.

TIME takes a look at the promotion of the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and the intersection with the presidential campaign. Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who have called for a major troop withdrawal from Iraq, will need to vote in the coming weeks on Petraeus’ promotion. His presence will also raise questions about the long-term prospects for the surge strategy in Iraq as well as counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan.

Read full story.


Unverdiente Auszeichnung: Bürgermeister von Paris macht Sektenführer Dalai Lama zum Ehrenbürger

April 22, 2008

Wenn ein Mann von allen gehasst wird, muss man die Gründe dafür überprüfen. Wenn ein Mann von allen geliebt wird, muss man das auch überprüfen. (Konfuzius)

Die Galionsfigur der antichinesischen Propaganda im Westen, sprich der Sektenführer Dalai Lama, ist zum Ehrenbürger von Paris ernannt worden. Nur die Sozialisten und Grünen im Stadtrat  von Paris stimmten dafür, wie der französische Sender France Info berichtete.

Die Liberal-Konservativen um Nicolas Sarkozy verweigerten (zu Recht) die Abstimmung. Der Vorschlag des außenpolitisch unerfahrenen sozialistischen Bürgermeisters Bertrand Delanoë gefährdet das Fundament der bisher sehr guten französisch-chinesischen Beziehungen, und ist deshalb ein schwer wiegender politischer Fehler, weil sich Frankreichs Staatspräsident Nicolas Sarkozy derzeit um eine diplomatische Entspannung mit China bemüht, nachdem gewalttätige Dalai-Lama-Anhänger den olympischen Fackellauf in Paris gestört und dabei die 27-jährige chinesische Rollstuhl-Fechterin Jin Jin verletzt hatten.

Nicolas Sarkozy hat seinem chinesischen Amtskollegen Hu Jintao eine persönlich gewidmete Biografie des in China beliebten französischen Generals und Staatsmannes Charles De Gaulle geschenkt, sagte der ehemalige Premier Jean-Pierre Raffarin, der Zeitung Le Parisien. Dies sei ein Zeichen einer “Politik der Freundschaft”. “Die französische China-Politik ändert sich nicht”, fügte Raffarin hinzu. “Es gibt eine starke Bindung zwischen Frankreich und China.”

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, der mit Jacques Chirac als ausgewiesener Kenner und Liebhaber der chinesischen Kultur gilt und übermorgen Chinas Premier und Staatspräsidenten in Peking treffen wird, kritisierte aufs Schärfste die “unangemessene” Entscheidung des Stadtrats von Paris, den Dalai Lama zum Ehrenbürger zu ernennen. “Das ist eine rein lokale Angelegenheit ohne jede nationale Auswirkung.”


Global Warming Nonsense

April 21, 2008

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Roger Bate (American Enterprise Institute, Washington D.C.) and Paul Reiter (Institut Pasteur, Paris) discuss myths regarding the relationship between global warming and public health concerns such as the spread of malaria.

Read full story.


German Spies Caught Reading Journalist’s E-Mails

April 21, 2008

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports on allegations that Germany’s foreign intelligence service BND spied on the email correspondence of Susanne Koelbl, a journalist at the Hamburg-based weekly Der Spiegel. The intelligence agency has admitted to, and apologized for the incident.

Read full story.


Dalai Lama’s U.S. tour arouses protest

April 21, 2008

The French media agency Agence France Presse (AFP) reports on heightened security for the Olympic torch relay as the torch begins its journey through Kuala Lumpur today.

China’s Xinhua news agency reports on counter-protests during the Dalai Lama’s recent tour of the United States.

Read full story.


Veranstaltung der CDU-Fraktion Berlin “Die NPD – Eine Gefahr für unsere Demokratie!”

April 21, 2008

EINLADUNG

Wir laden Sie herzlich zu unserer Veranstaltung ein:

Die NPD – Eine Gefahr für unsere Demokratie!

Dienstag, den 29. April 2008, von 13 bis 16 Uhr
Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin
Preußischer Landtag – Raum 311
10111 Berlin (Nähe S- und U-Bhf Potsdamer Platz)

Es diskutieren:
 
– Dr. Rudolf van Hüllen, Verfasser des Buches “Das Rechtsextreme Bündnis: Aktionsformen und Inhalte” im Auftrag der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung,
– Michael Heinisch, Sozialdiakonische Jugendarbeit Lichtenberg,
– Frank Henkel MdA, innenpolitischer Sprecher der CDU-Fraktion,
– Dr. Viola Neu, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

Moderation:

Prof. Dr. Manfred Wilke, stv. Landesvorsitzender und Leiter des Forums für Demokratie, Geschichte und Extremismus der CDU Berlin.

Wir würden uns freuen, wenn wir Sie auf unserer Veranstaltung begrüßen könnten.

Zur Anmeldung nutzen Sie bitte dieses Antwortformular.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Gina Schmelter – Referentin für Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit

CDU-Fraktion des Abgeordnetenhauses von Berlin
Preußischer Landtag
10111 Berlin
Telefon: (030) 23 25-21 20
Telefax: (030) 23 25-27 52
E-Mail: schmelter@cdu-fraktion.berlin.de
Internet: www.cdu-fraktion.berlin.de


Darfur Survivor Speaks at United Nations Human Rights Council

April 18, 2008
Despite continuing reports of Sudanese involvement in the killing, rape, and displacement of many thousands in Darfur, the Khartoum regime was celebrated for its “cooperation” at the recently concluded session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Sudan’s allies from the African, Islamic groups and Non-Aligned blocs lined up to praise Khartoum, a position that was formalized in a consensus resolution welcoming the collaboration of the government of Sudan.

Gibreil Hamid, a survivor from Darfur, took the floor on behalf of UN Watch to confront the impunity granted to Sudan.

See full text below.

***

UN Human Rights Council, 7th Session
Interactive Dialogue with UN Special Rapporteur on Sudan
UN Watch Statement Delivered by Gibreil Hamid, March 17, 2008

Thank you, Mr. President.

I speak on behalf of UN Watch. We thank the Special Rapporteur for her excellent work for the victims of Darfur.

Mr. President, I am from Darfur, and I know the truth about what is happening there. The truth can be found in today’s report.

The report shows how the Government of Sudan is violating human rights and international humanitarian law, with physical assaults, abductions and rape. In October, Government forces attacked Muhajiriya. People praying in a mosque were rounded up, and forty-eight civilians were killed.   In November, Government planes dropped bombs on Habila. The attackers entered the villages, shooting, stealing animals and setting fire to houses.

On 2 December, in West Darfur, armed men attacked a group of ten women and girls. A sixteen-year-old girl from the group was gang raped, and at least three other women were whipped and beaten with axes. Police and soldiers refused to help.

Today’s report says that violence against women in Darfur is continuing. There is no improvement. There is no justice. The attackers enjoy immunity.

Mr. President, in the name of basic human rights, UN Watch urges Sudan to end these attacks against innocent civilians. UN Watch asks this Council to please stop praising Sudan for its “cooperation.” Mr. President, attacking little girls is not “cooperation.”

We wish to ask the rapporteur: What further action is she planning to protect the victims of Darfur?

Thank you, Mr. President.


China’s Secret Signs of Democratic Change

April 18, 2008
An Interview with Philip Levy, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
This summer, China will host the summer Olympics for the first time. Its international debut as a superpower is already being hampered by protests in Tibet and Xinjiang, demonstrations along the route of the Olympic torch, and pledges by some Western leaders not to attend the games’ opening ceremony.

The Chinese leadership’s crackdown no doubt chagrined those in democracies who advocated giving China the games. In 2001, the New York Times editorialized that even though China’s human rights record was poor, “there is reason to hope that the bright spotlight the Olympics can shine on the Chinese government’s behavior over the next seven years could prove beneficial to those in China who would like to see their country evolve into a more tolerant and democratic society.” Now that the People’s Republic is in the spotlight, there is little in the way of visible evolution toward democracy.

But might China be evolving subtly toward democracy? That is Philip Levy’s intriguing argument in a new paper, Economic Integration and Incipient Democracy. Whereas conventional democratization theory focuses on benchmarks and indicators of progress on the road to popular rule, Levy suggests that we are overlooking an increased potential for change. “The enhanced potential for progress comes from an increase in the means for achieving democratic change,” he writes. Levy freely acknowledges that “China’s on the absolute bottom” on scales of democratization. But he points to three changes within China that may indicate the growth of democratic potential–there and elsewhere.

The three elements of democratic potential are also necessary for the dramatic–upwards of 10 percent–economic growth that China has enjoyed. They are communications technology, the rise of alternative leaders, and rule of law. All have sprung up in China along with greater integration into the world economy, and all pose, to some extent, a threat to the Chinese regime. If you were the Chinese leadership, Levy says, “you would not want 400 million cell phones floating around.” It’s difficult to reverse these trends, leaving the Chinese government in a potentially perilous situation. “They face some difficult choices,” Levy adds. “To the extent that they are gaining legitimacy from the economic well-being and the prosperity, a lot of these tools of democracy come with it. They’re essentially dual-use technologies.” These potential tools for democracy build up subtly, in ways not factored into conventional democracy measurements, for some time until they suddenly become apparent. “In short,” says Levy, “they can be seen. We’re just not looking.”

Which is not to say that incipient democracy happens fast. Levy pointed to the centuries-long incubation of liberal traditions in Great Britain and its colonies. “If you’re measuring year by year,” he adds, “you wouldn’t expect to see much.” In an echo of Zhou Enlai’s assessment of the French Revolution as “too soon to tell,” it may have been far too presumptuous to have expected visible democratic progress in China in the years before the Olympic Games.

***

Levy did not work closely on China issues until joining the State Department’s policy planning staff in 2005, where he worked on, among other things, the Bush administration’s “responsible stakeholder” policy toward Beijing. Levy had previously focused on trade issues, first as a senior economist at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and as a professor at Yale. And there is indeed a trade component to Levy’s theory. The emergence of these subtle indicators of incipient democracy has been a result of China’s growing trade ties with the outside world. “Free trade has been having an effect,” he said. “It’s very hard to imagine that you’d see things like the Xiamen protests [over pollution], like [the protest over the monorail] through Shanghai . . . in the time of Mao.”

The response from the developed world, then, should be to continue trade with China. “You have a substantially greater chance of democracy in China with the kind of economic integration–the trade–that they’ve had than you would if China had been off in isolation.”

Concerns about human rights, security issues, and product safety in China, combined with fears of globalization and the weakening dollar, have clouded the outlook for further free trade. With a potentially disastrous Olympics coming up, will there be any stomach for closer economic integration with China? Levy warns against throwing up our hands on democratic change in China: “The danger is [that] if you rely on you on those conventional measures, you may reach the erroneous conclusion [that] ‘we’ve achieved nothing through this opening policy, and we’d be more true to ourselves and to our principles if we just shut off trade with China.'” He continues: “Something has happened [there]; you can document it; you can look and see what happened; and we have every reason to think that this has increased the extent to which people’s voices are heard–without crossing the threshold.”

Beijing’s Olympics may themselves be a sign of this incipient democracy. The Olympics represent China’s wealth, which was driven by the “dual-use” indicators of democratic potential. They are also occasioning flashes of protest within China, a hint of something “incipient” growing just out of sight.

Click here to read Economic Integration and Incipient Democracy.

Reprinted with kindly permission of The American Enterprise Institute.


The End of U.S. Hegemony

April 18, 2008

In an article in the Financial Times, Richard Nathan Haass, president of The Council on Foreign Relations, argues that the age of unprecedented U.S. dominance is over. The transition to a nonpolar world will have mostly negative consequences for the United States.

“Why did it end? One explanation is history. States get better at generating and piecing together the human, financial and technological resources that lead to productivity and prosperity. The same holds for companies and other organisations. The rise of new powers cannot be stopped. The result is an ever larger number of actors able to exert influence regionally or globally. It is not that the US has grown weaker, but that many other entities have grown much stronger.”

Read full story.


British Premier Gordon Brown in the USA

April 18, 2008

TIME interviews British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on his trip to the United States, in which Brown is meeting with President George W. Bush and all three main contenders for the U.S. presidency.

The Guardian reports that good-natured meetings between Gordon Brown and George W. Bush stood in sharp contrast to frostier interactions between the two men last year.

Read full story.


Mexico’s Crime Crackdown

April 18, 2008

Newsweek International reports on the showdown between Mexico’s military and the country’s drug cartels and corrupt police.

Read full story.


Happy Passover 2008

April 17, 2008


China’s Exchange Rate Policy

April 17, 2008

An excerpt from a new book by two experts at the Peterson Institute for International Economics looks at the main policy issues dominating discussion of China’s exchange rate.

Read full story.


New York Times Blog on Papal Visit

April 16, 2008

Rabbi A. James Rudin, American Jewish Committee (AJC) senior advisor on interreligious affairs, is blogging for the New York Times during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States.

The New York Times invited Rabbi A. James Rudin as the only Jewish organizational representative to join with several other bloggers, including New York Times chief religion correspondent Laurie Goodstein, in providing analysis of Benedict’s papacy and his visit to the United States.

Read full story.


CDU-Fraktion Expertenanhörung Flughafen Tempelhof

April 16, 2008

EINLADUNG

Am 27. April 2008, entscheiden die Berlinerinnen und Berliner in einem – in der Verfassung verankerten – Volksentscheid darüber, ob der Flughafen Tempelhof weiter erhalten bleibt, oder als Wiese ohne Nutzungskonzept verödet.

Die CDU-Fraktion hat sich bereits während des Volksbegehrens mit aller Kraft für die Offenhaltung des Flughafens Tempelhof eingesetzt. Denn seit der Berlin-Blockade im Jahr 1948 ist er das Freiheitssymbol unserer Stadt, vor allem aber ist er ein Chancenflughafen für Investitionen und Arbeitsplätze.

Wenige Tage vor dem Volksentscheid haben wir hochrangige Experten zu einer Anhörung eingeladen. Sie werden herausarbeiten, wie Tempelhof als ideale Ergänzung zum Großflughafen BBI den Berliner Wirtschaftsstandort nachhaltig stärken kann. Auch das Konzept der Investoren Lauder und Langhammer soll intensiv erläutert werden.

Expertenanhörung zur Offenhaltung des Flughafens Tempelhof

Begrüßung:
– Dr. Friedbert Pflüger, MdA, Vorsitzender der CDU-Fraktion

Podium:
– Friedrich Merz, MdB, CDU-Wirtschaftsexperte
“Standortvorteil Tempelhof bei wachsendem Geschäftsflugverkehr nutzen”
– Prof. Dr. Elmar Giemulla, Luftverkehrsexperte der TU Berlin
“Weiterbetrieb von Tempelhof ist Null-Gefahr für BBI”
– Wolf-Dieter Siebert, Vorstand der Deutschen Bahn
“Die Deutsche Bahn als Betreiber von Tempelhof”
– Robert Salzl, Projektplaner der CED GmbH (Lauder)
“Das Lauder-Konzept – neue Arbeitsplätze für Berlin”

Moderation:
– Jochim Stoltenberg, Berliner Morgenpost

Schlusswort:
– Ingo Schmitt, MdB, Mitglied im Verkehrsausschuss, Landesvorsitzender der CDU Berlin

Dienstag, 22. April 2008, 18:00 Uhr im Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin, Preußischer Landtag, Raum 311 Niederkirchnerstraße 5, 10111 Berlin

Wir würden uns freuen, wenn wir Sie zu unserer Expertenanhörung begrüßen könnten. Um sich anzumelden, bitte hier klicken.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Gina Schmelter – Referentin für Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit

CDU-Fraktion des Abgeordnetenhauses von Berlin
Preußischer Landtag
10111 Berlin
Telefon: (030) 23 25-21 20
Telefax: (030) 23 25-27 52
E-Mail: schmelter@cdu-fraktion.berlin.de
Internet: www.cdu-fraktion.berlin.de


Filmfest Hamburg Family & Friends

April 16, 2008
Pressemitteilung
Hamburg – 16.04.2008 – Die monatliche Veranstaltungsreihe von Hamburg Media School, 3001 Kino und Filmfest Hamburg geht im Mai in die 4. Runde. Wir freuen uns sehr über die Resonanz beim Publikum, bei den Studenten der HMS und bei den Gästen, die Ihre Filme in Hamburg vorstellen. Von Vorstellung zu Vorstellung gewinnt unsere Stadt und das Hamburger Publikum einen Fan mehr.

“I saw some pictures of Hamburg yesterday and I felt nostalgic. Thanks again, I had a great time!”
Spiros Stathoulopoulos, Regisseur von ‚PVC-1′
 
Am 8. Mai 2008 um 21 Uhr präsentieren wir die deutsche Erstaufführung von: ‚Wasted’ von Nurit Kedar (Israel 2007, 55 Minuten, hebräisch mit englischen Untertiteln)
 
Zu Gast: Nurit Kedar (Regie)
‚Wasted’ ist Teil einer Trilogie über den Ersten Libanonkrieg. Kedar präsentiert dazu Ausschnitte aus den vorangehenden Filmen ‚Borders’ (2000) und ‚Lebanon Dream’ (2001)
 
Im Kino 3001, Schanzenstrasse 75, Eintritt 5 Euro.
Wir empfehlen eine telefonische Kartenreservierungen unter (040) 43 76 79!

DER FILM

‚Wasted’ (basierend auf Ron Leshems Roman „Wenn es ein Paradies gibt”) ist ein offenherziger Blick auf jene israelischen Soldaten, die in der Festung von Beaufort im Süd-Libanon vor Israels Rückzug im Jahr 2000 stationiert waren. Diese jungen Männer gehen in den Krieg und kommen als andere Menschen zurück. Ihre Erinnerungen greifen manchmal tief, manchmal sind sie banal: der Geruch von gebratenem Schnitzel, der Geruch ihrer Freundin auf einem T-Shirt, der Geruch der Füße und der Geruch der eigenen Angst. In diesem ruhigen, eleganten Film über die Schrecken des Krieges, studiert die Kamera die Gesichter der jungen Soldaten, deren Gesichtszüge oft mehr als Worte erzählen.
Die Männer lebten jeden Tag auf dem Berg und bissen bei jeder Detonation die Zähne zusammen, in der Hoffnung, einen Treffer nicht zu überleben, da der Tod besser gewesen wäre als eine Amputation. Es war ein absurdes Theater des Krieges; ein Soldat bemerkt: “Ich sah nie jemanden, auf den ich hätte schießen können.” Ein anderer fragt: “Wen oder was bewachten wir? Wir haben uns einfach nur selbst bewacht, so dass wir am Ende mit heiler Haut da raus kommen.”
 
Die Interviews mit den Soldaten, die monatelang in der klaustrophobischen Festung ausharrten, sind durchmischt mit kühlen eleganten Aufnahmen der männlichen Tänzer der Bat Sheva Dance Company unter der Regie von Ohad Naharin (einer der führenden Choreografen Israels). In ihren dichten bizarren Bewegungen spiegeln sie das Leben in jenem Quartier wider: ein Leben mit dem Wissen um die explosive Gefahr, ein Leben fast wie in einer organischen Einheit.  Seltsam schön und zugleich zutiefst erschütternd. Das dokumentarische Gegenstück zum israelischen Oskar-Nominee ‚Beaufort’.

DIE REGISSEURIN

Nurit Kedar ist Produzentin und Regisseurin von Dokumentarfilmen. Sie arbeitete als Senior Producerin für das CNN Bureau in Jerusalem und als Executive Producer für den israelischen Channel 2. Kedar ist eine renommierte Dokumentarfilmerin in Israel. International wurden Ihre Filme auf ARTE, ARD, Canal Plus, RAI etc. ausgestrahlt.
 
Wir freuen uns auf Sie.

Kontakt: Kathrin Kohlstedde / Filmfest Hamburg GmbH
Steintorweg 4 | 20099 Hamburg
Tel. 040-399 19 00 14 | Fax. 040-399 19 00 10
E-Mail: kohlstedde@filmfesthamburg.de