Zum Ausklang eines Jahrzehnts der Angst und Hoffnung

December 31, 2010

Eine Glosse von Narcisse Caméléon, Ressortleiter Deppologie

“Es gibt keine Hoffnung ohne Angst und keine Angst ohne Hoffnung” verkündete einst der Philosoph Baruch de Spinoza. 

11. September 2001, globaler Terror und Kriege, Epidemien, Finanzkrisen, aber auch Fortführung der digitalen Revolution, Einführung des Euro, listiger Sieg der historischen Vernunft i.e. Gleichstellung in den USA mit dem ersten schwarzen Präsidenten, und in Deutschland mit der ersten Frau als Bundeskanzlerin: Das erste Jahrzehnt des XXI. Jahrhunderts  wird sicherlich als das Jahrzehnt der Angst und Hoffnung in die Geschichte eingehen.

Angesichts dieser schwebenden Dialektik zwischen Furcht und Aussicht, zwischen Demagogie und Pädagogie, zwischen Obskurantimus und Aufklärung, zwischen Manipulation und Emanzipation, stellt sich die Frage des kommenden Jahrzehnts: Was ist ein Menschenleben wert in einem vom Informationsüberfluss behafteten Zeitalter? Was ist der Menschen Leben im Zeitalter des “letzten Menschen”, in dem Freizeit Freiheit definitiv begraben hat?

Was ist der Menschen Leben?

von Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843)

Was ist der Menschen Leben? ein Bild der Gottheit.

Wie unter dem Himmel wandeln die Irdischen alle, sehen

Sie diesen. Lesend aber gleichsam, wie

In einer Schrift, die Unendlichkeit nachahmen und den /Reichtum

Menschen. Ist der einfältige Himmel

Denn reich? Wie Blüten sind ja

Silberne Wolken. Es regnet aber von daher

Der Tau und das Feuchte. Wenn aber

Das Blau ist ausgelöschet, das Einfältige, scheint

Das Matte, das dem Marmelstein gleichet, wie Erz,

Anzeige des Reichtums.

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“How can you defend Israel?”

December 27, 2010

An op-ed by David A. Harris
Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee
The Jerusalem Post, December 27, 2010

I was sitting in a lecture hall at a British university. Bored by the speaker, I began glancing around the hall. I noticed someone who looked quite familiar from an earlier academic incarnation. When the session ended, I introduced myself and wondered if, after years that could be counted in decades, he remembered me.

He said he did, at which point I commented that the years had been good to him. His response: “But you’ve changed a lot.”

“How so?” I asked with a degree of trepidation, knowing that, self-deception aside, being 60 isn’t quite the same as 30.

Looking me straight in the eye, he proclaimed, as others standing nearby listened in, “I read the things you write about Israel. I hate them. How can you defend that country? What happened to the good liberal boy I knew 30 years ago?”

I replied: “That good liberal boy hasn’t changed his view. Israel is a liberal cause, and I am proud to speak up for it.”

Yes, I’m proud to speak up for Israel. A recent trip once again reminded me why.

Sometimes, it’s the seemingly small things, the things that many may not even notice, or just take for granted, or perhaps deliberately ignore, lest it spoil their airtight thinking.

It’s the driving lesson in Jerusalem, with the student behind the wheel a devout Muslim woman, and the teacher an Israeli with a skullcap. To judge from media reports about endless inter-communal conflict, such a scene should be impossible. Yet, it was so mundane that no one, it seemed, other than me gave it a passing glance. It goes without saying that the same woman would not have had the luxury of driving lessons, much less with an Orthodox Jewish teacher, had she been living in Saudi Arabia.

It’s the two gay men walking hand-in-hand along the Tel Aviv beachfront. No one looked at them, and no one questioned their right to display their affection. Try repeating the same scene in some neighboring countries.

It’s the Friday crowd at a mosque in Jaffa. Muslims are free to enter as they please, to pray, to affirm their faith. The scene is repeated throughout Israel. Meanwhile, Christians in Iraq are targeted for death; Copts in Egypt face daily marginalization; Saudi Arabia bans any public display of Christianity; and Jews have been largely driven out of the Arab Middle East.

It’s the central bus station in Tel Aviv. There’s a free health clinic set up for the thousands of Africans who have entered Israel, some legally, others illegally. They are from Sudan, Eritrea, and elsewhere. They are Christians, Muslims, and animists. Clearly, they know something that Israel’s detractors, who rant and rave about alleged “racism,” don’t. They know that, if they’re lucky, they can make a new start in Israel. That’s why they bypass Arab countries along the way, fearing imprisonment or persecution. And while tiny Israel wonders how many such refugees it can absorb, Israeli medical professionals volunteer their time in the clinic.

It’s Save a Child’s Heart, another Israeli institution that doesn’t make it into the international media all that much, although it deserves a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Here, children in need of advanced cardiac care come, often below the radar. They arrive from Iraq, the West Bank, Gaza, and other Arab places. They receive world-class treatment. It’s free, offered by doctors and nurses who wish to assert their commitment to coexistence. Yet, these very same individuals know that, in many cases, their work will go unacknowledged. The families are fearful of admitting they sought help in Israel, even as, thanks to Israelis, their children have been given a new lease on life.

It’s the vibrancy of the Israeli debate on just about everything, including, centrally, the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. The story goes that U.S. President Harry Truman met Israeli President Chaim Weizmann shortly after Israel’s establishment in 1948. They got into a discussion about who had the tougher job. Truman said: “With respect, I’m president of 140 million people.” Weizmann retorted: “True, but I’m president of one million presidents.”

Whether it’s the political parties, the Knesset, the media, civil society, or the street, Israelis are assertive, self-critical, and reflective of a wide range of viewpoints.

It’s the Israelis who are now planning the restoration of the Carmel Forest, after a deadly fire killed 44 people and destroyed 8,000 acres of exquisite nature. Israelis took an arid and barren land and, despite the unimaginably harsh conditions, lovingly planted one tree after another, so that Israel can justifiably claim today that it’s one of the few countries with more wooded land than it had a century ago.

It’s the Israelis who, with quiet resolve and courage, are determined to defend their small sliver of land against every conceivable threat – the growing Hamas arsenal in Gaza; the dangerous build-up of missiles by Hezbollah in Lebanon; nuclear-aspiring Iran’s calls for a world without Israel; Syria’s hospitality to Hamas leaders and transshipment of weapons to Hezbollah; and enemies that shamelessly use civilians as human shields. Or the global campaign to challenge Israel’s very legitimacy and right to self-defense; the bizarre anti-Zionist coalition between the radical left and Islamic extremists; the automatic numerical majority at the UN ready to endorse, at a moment’s notice, even the most far-fetched accusations against Israel; and those in the punditocracy unable – or unwilling – to grasp the immense strategic challenges facing Israel.

Yes, it’s those Israelis who, after burying 21 young people murdered by terrorists at a Tel Aviv discotheque, don the uniform of the Israeli armed forces to defend their country, and proclaim, in the next breath, that, “They won’t stop us from dancing, either.”

That’s the country I’m proud to stand up for. No, I’d never say Israel is perfect. It has its flaws and foibles. It’s made its share of mistakes. But, then again, so has every democratic, liberal and peace-seeking country I know, though few of them have faced existential challenges every day since their birth.

The perfect is the enemy of the good, it’s said. Israel is a good country. And seeing it up close, rather than through the filter of the BBC or the Guardian, never fails to remind me why.

Reprinted with kind permission of The Jerusalem Post.


“Zwischen Populismus und Aufklärung” – 4. Freiheitskongress am 19. Januar 2011

December 27, 2010

Die Stiftung für die Freiheit veranstaltet in Berlin ihren vierten Freiheitskongress am 19. Januar 2011 unter dem Thema “Zwischen Populismus und Aufklärung”.

Teilnehmer sind Wolfgang Gerhardt, Vorsitzender des Vorstandes der Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit, Walter Krämer, Professor für Wirtschafts- und Sozialstatistik an der TU Dortmund und Autor des Buches “So lügt man mit Statistik”, Christel Happach-Kasan, Vorsitzende der Arbeitsgruppe Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz der FDP-Bundestagsfraktion, Hans von Storch, Klimaforscher und Meteorologe, sowie Vince Ebert, Wissenschafts-Kabarettist und Physiker.

Zur Anmeldung.


U.S. Senate gives approval to new START Treaty with Russia

December 22, 2010

The U.S. Senate has voted to end debate (as we previously reported) on a new arms control treaty with Russia. Several Republican senators supported the new START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) treaty in what would be a bipartisan success for U.S. President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama attends a New START Treaty meeting hosted by Vice President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 18, 2010. Seated with them, clockwise from left, are: former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and Dr. Henry A. Kissinger; Vice Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James E. Cartwright; former Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright; former National Security Advisor Gen. Brent Scowcroft; former Secretary of Defense Dr. William Perry; Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman; Senator John F. Kerry, D-Mass; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Senator Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind.; Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs Brian P. McKeon. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama attends a New START Treaty meeting hosted by Vice President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 18, 2010. Seated with them, clockwise from left, are: former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and Dr. Henry A. Kissinger; Vice Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James E. Cartwright; former Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright; former National Security Advisor Gen. Brent Scowcroft; former Secretary of Defense Dr. William Perry; Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman; Senator John F. Kerry, D-Mass; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Senator Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind.; Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs Brian P. McKeon. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

U.S. Senate approval could smooth the way for further arms reductions beyond the limits set by START, which requires both sides to decrease stockpiles to 1,550 strategic warheads.

The text of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) signed in April 2010 can be read here.

In a Brookings paper released early this month, Steven Pifer, foreign policy analyst and former ambassador to Ukraine, argues that future arms reductions talks with Russia won’t be easy to negotiate, since Russia relies on tactical nuclear weapons to balance conventional imbalances with China and NATO.

Read full story.


The Electric Don Quixote: 70th Anniversary of Frank Zappa

December 21, 2010
"Rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, in order to provide articles for people who can't read." (Frank Zappa, 1940-1993)
“Journalists are people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, in order to provide articles for people who can’t read.” (Frank Zappa, 1940-1993)
A Tribute by David Berger
 
If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you. (Oscar Wilde)

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Frank Zappa, one of the most iconoclastic character of American pop culture (beside Groucho Marx and Mel Brooks), an ironical critic of mainstream media (Thomas Pynchon did the same, but in a more incognito way; should I say a Trotzkist one, i.e. smashing the system from inside…), and a passionate advocate for freedom of speech, we reproduce his famous ballade Bobby Brown – which can be interpreted as a satirical view of established social and political processes, structures and movements (both conservative and progressive…).

Just an anecdote, but not a poor one: In early 1990 at the request of Czech President Václav Havel, a fan too, Frank Zappa went into politics, serving as a cultural attaché. Neither Right nor Left, Frank Zappa confirmed that an artist can make a difference in society without such a bullshit like ideology. Unfortunately, this promising political career was broken by his death in 1993.

A delightful sense of humor – not everybody’s taste. An incomparable flair for eclectic and provocative themes – not everybody’s talent. Actually, the great master of American surrealism or dadaism Frank Zappa wasn’t Everybody’s Darling.

Happy birthday, Frank!

***

Bobby Brown Lyrics

Hey there, people, I’m Bobby Brown
They say I’m the cutest boy in town
My car is fast, my teeth is shiney
I tell all the girls they can kiss my heinie
Here I am at a famous school
I’m dressing sharp n im
Acting cool
I got a cheerleader here wants to help with my paper
Let her do all the work n maybe later I’ll rape her

Oh God I am the American dream
I do not think I’m too extreme
An I’m a handsome son of a bitch
I’m gonna get a good job n be real rich

(get a good
Get a good
Get a good
Get a good job)

Women’s liberation
Came creeping across the nation
I tell you people I was not ready
When I fucked this dyke by the name of Freddie
She made a little speech then,
Aw, she tried to make me say when
She had my balls in a vice, but she left the dick
I guess it’s still hooked on, but now it shoots too quick

Oh God I am the American dream
But now I smell like Vaseline
An I’m a miserable son of a bitch
Am I a boy or a lady…I don’t know which

(I wonder wonder
Wonder wonder)

So I went out n bought me a leisure suit
I jingle my change, but I’m still kinda cute
Got a job doin radio promo
An none of the jocks can even tell I’m a homo
Eventually me n a friend
Sorta drifted along into S&M
I can take about an hour on the tower of power
Long as I gets a little golden shower

Oh God I am the American dream
With a spindle up my butt till it makes me scream
An I’ll do anything to get ahead
I lay awake nights sayin, thank you, Fred!
Oh god, oh god, I’m so fantastic!
Thanks to Freddie, I’m a sexual spastic

And my name is Bobby Brown
Watch me now, I’m goin down,
And my name is Bobby Brown
Watch me now, I’m goin down, etc.


In Memoriam: Richard Holbrooke (1941-2010)

December 15, 2010

“The controlled chaos is one way to get creativity. The intensity of it, the physical rush, the intimacy created the kind of dialogue that leads to synergy.” Richard Holbrooke

Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke (April 24, 1941 – December 13, 2010)

Richard Holbrooke (April 24, 1941 – December 13, 2010)

Richard Holbrooke was the most ubiquitous and brilliant diplomat of his generation, distinguished for his legendary toughness as a negotiator in Asia, Europe, and beyond. As a diplomat, writer, and investment banker, he has stood near the pinnacle of power, renewing the credibility of U.S. diplomacy.

To commemorate the passing of the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, chief architect of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement, and Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, we reproduce some articles and stories related to this giant of U.S. foreign policy.

United States presidential election, 2008: The Next President

Former U.S. ambassador Richard Holbrooke discusses Russia, Georgia and Kosovo

Bosnian Crisis

U.S. President Obama appoints envoys to Middle East and South Asia

Afpak: Richard Holbrooke’ U.S. Strategy for South Asia


2011 American Jewish Committee Global Forum: Join World Leaders to Shape the Future

December 7, 2010

Dear Friend of Israel,

I want to personally invite you to celebrate the 105th anniversary of the American Jewish Committee at the inaugural Global Forum in Washington, DC, from April 27-29, 2011.

Over the span of just 48 hours, you will:

Hear from world leaders:

Join Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, who has courageously changed Panama’s foreign policy course regarding Israel, German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a rising German political superstar, and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov, one of Israel and the Jewish people’s most trusted European allies. We’ll have more to announce soon!

Debate the most pressing issues:

Last year, we brought you a terrific face-off between Roger Cohen and Bret Stephens on Iran policy. This year, come watch noted journalists Yossi Klein Halevi and Peter Beinart debate the future of the American Jewish establishment. Two authoritative voices, two very different visions.

Engage with leading thinkers:

Robert Kagan, prominent leading foreign policy analyst and author of the paradigm-shifting Of Paradise and Power, and The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg will discuss the implications of a changing world order.

Enjoy an intimate dinner with dignitaries:

AJC’s trademark program is back by popular demand!

Participate in skill-building workshops:

Learn how to become a more effective advocate from AJC’s leading experts.

Network:

With like-minded professionals, intellectuals, policy experts and Jewish leaders from around the world.

Are you a young professional? If so, consider joining the ACCESS 20/20 Weekend, April 29-30, following the Global Forum.

Register now.

I look forward to seeing you in Washington!

Robert Elman
American Jewish Committee (AJC) President