Das Biblikon-Projekt – Die Entschlüsselung des Bibel-Codes

December 3, 2013

Gut ein halbes Jahrzehnt hat sich der Politikwissenschaftler und Historiker Tomas Michael Spahn neben seinen beruflichen Aufgaben als Berater für politische Kommunikation und Analytik dem Alten Testament der christlichen Bibel – dem Tanach der Juden – gewidmet.

Was als der Versuch eines kurzen Essays über die Lebenswirklichkeit des biblischen Königs Josia begann, wurde zu einer Analyse dieses Werks, die mittlerweile ziemlich genau 1.350 gedruckte Seiten umfasst und die Spahn jetzt unter dem Titel „Das Biblikon-Projekt – Die Entschlüsselung des Bibel-Codes“ veröffentlicht hat.

Die Ergebnisse dieser Analyse sind – zurückhaltend formuliert – sensationell. Denn im Grunde stellt Spahn 2.500 Jahre gelebte Menschheitsgeschichte auf den Kopf und entlarvt die Wirklichkeit der Religion als etwas, das er als “sacred fiction” – heilige Fiktion – bezeichnet.

„Schon Gandhi erkannte: Das Grundproblem bei jeglicher Betrachtung menschlicher Interaktionen und historischer Vorgänge ist die Unterscheidung zwischen Wahrheit und Wirklichkeit“, sagt der frühere Leiter der Öffentlichkeitsarbeit einer Berliner Landesbehörde und Ressortleiter einer deutschen Tageszeitung.

“Wahrheit ist das, was war oder ist – was tatsächlich war oder ist. Nicht das, was gewesen sein soll oder sein könnte oder von dem wir glauben, dass es war oder ist. Sobald wir letzteres jedoch zu unserer persönlichen Scheinwahrheit machen, wird es zur Wirklichkeit. Wirklichkeit kann also sein, ohne auf Wahrheit zu beruhen – und gleichwohl unterstellen wir, dass es so sei.“

Wer in dreißig Berufsjahren als politischer Redakteur und als Kommunikationsverantwortlicher in Unternehmen und Verwaltung tätig war, lerne den Unterschied zwischen Wahrheit und Wirklichkeit zu erkennen, meint Spahn. Als Redakteur sei es seine Aufgabe gewesen, die ihm präsentierte Wirklichkeit auf ihren Wahrheitskern zurück zu führen. Als Öffentlichkeitsarbeiter hingegen habe er das genaue Gegenteil gemacht: Aus der Sache wurde eine Wirklichkeit für die Öffentlichkeit, die mit der Wahrheit nicht immer etwas zu tun haben musste.

Damit schließt sich für den Analytiker der Kreis zur Bibel. Eines der faszinierendsten Phänomene der gelebten Wirklichkeit sei es, dass selbst in den renommiertesten, historischen Fachbüchern die im Tanach geschilderte Geschichte als historischer Tatsachenbericht eingeflossen ist.

Spahn: “Sachlich betrachtet hat die Bibel erst einmal nicht mehr historischen Wahrheitsgehalt als beispielsweise die Ilias oder das Siegfried-Lied. Kein Historiker würde auf die Idee kommen, diese literarischen Werke ungeprüft als geschichtliche Wahrheit in seine Werke zu schreiben.“

Ganz anders bei den Erzählungen zum Ursprung des Monotheismus: Jenseits jeglicher Fremdquelle, die die Geschichten belegen könnte, seien die biblischen Darstellungen als vorgebliche Wahrheit in die Geschichtsschreibung eingeflossen und fänden sich dort bis heute. Für Spahn ist dieses der trotz abendländischer Aufklärung nachwirkende Wahrheitsanspruch der Kirche, der “als Wirklichkeit derart tief in unserem kollektiven Bewusstsein verankert ist, dass sich kaum einer traut, ihn als das zu bezeichnen, was er ist: Eine Fabel, deren Wahrheitsnachweis bislang ausgeblieben ist.”

Als der Publizist und Nahostkenner begann, sich intensiv mit den Geschichten des Alten Testaments zu beschäftigen, stieß er schnell auf Ungereimtheiten, die seit geraumer Zeit die historische Wissenschaft zu Korrekturen hätten bewegen müssen. “Eine der grundsätzlichen Fragen ist es, in welcher Schrift der eine Gott seine zehn Gebote in den Fels des Berges Sinai geschrieben hat”, befindet Spahn. Laut biblischer Darstellung habe sich dieser Vorgang auf der Flucht der Hebräer, die korrekt als „Seitenwechsler“ zu übersetzen seien, aus Ägypten ereignet – und damit viele Jahrhunderte, bevor die legendären Könige David und Salomo das Großreich Israel gegründet hätten.

“Wenn es so ist, wie der Tanach es darstellt, stehen wir vor einem Problem. Die Wissenschaft weiß heute, dass die hebräischen Schriftzeichen sich keinesfalls vor der letzten vorchristlichen Jahrtausendwende entwickeln haben. In welcher Schrift also schrieb der Gott Jahuah Jahrhunderte vor dieser Zeit seine Gebote in den Sinai?” Hinzu käme, dass auch die Geschichte von der gewaltsamen Übernahme des “Landes Kanaan” – und damit der gesamte Komplex der fünf Bücher Mose sowie die Josua-Geschichte -zumindest dann nicht in Ivrit geschrieben worden sein können, wenn sie als Tatsachenberichte zum Zeitpunkt des geschilderten Geschehens verfasst wurden. Diesen Eindruck jedoch vermittelten diese Geschichten – und da nicht sein kann, was nachweislich nicht möglich ist, müsse es sich bei diesen sechs Büchern um deutlich später schriftlich verfasste Erzählungen handeln.

Damit jedoch müssten ihre Inhalte nicht zwingend unrichtig sein. Sie könnten immer noch auf tatsächlichem Geschehen beruhen. Wenn sie allerdings, wie der israelische Archäologe Israel Finkelstein nachgewiesen hat, eine Welt des achten oder siebten vorchristlichen Jahrhunderts beschreiben, dann haben sie in etwa den gleichen historischen Wert wie jene mittelalterlichen Kunstwerke, die die Juden zur Zeit Christi in der Garderobe der mittelalterlichen Ghettos zeigen. Von einem wäre in diesem Falle jedoch zwingend auszugehen: Eine möglicherweise wahre Geschichte hätte über die Jahrhunderte zahllose Veränderungen erfahren können, wäre erweitert und glorifiziert worden. Insofern bliebe vielleicht ein Kern an Wahrheit.

Die Frage sei dann jedoch: Welches ist dieser Kern. Denn es gibt auch andere Ungereimtheiten, die nicht passen wollen. So kauft der aus Mesopotamien zugewanderte Urvater Abraham einem Hethiter ein Grundstück ab. Das Problem: Die Hethiter waren erst deutlich später in der Region anzutreffen, als zu jenem Zeitraum, in dem die Abraham-Geschichte historisch zu verorten ist. Andererseits waren “chét”, wie die Hethiter im Original heißen, eine gängige Bezeichnung der assyrischen Herrscher in Ninive für die Bewohner der Region zwischen Jerusalem und Anatolien. Die assyrischen Konflikte mit diesen Chét wiederum fallen in die Zeit des achten und siebten vorchristlichen Jahrhunderts und stützen so die Erkenntnis Finkelsteins, dass wesentliche Teile des Tanach nicht vor dieser Zeit verfasst wurden.

Der Kommunikationsexperte Spahn wandte sich in einem weiteren Schritt konkreten Fragen der Sprache und des erzählerischen Aufbaus des Alten Testaments zu. Dabei kommt er neben zahlreichen anderen neuen Erkenntnissen zu der Feststellung, dass die Autoren der Bibel, vergleichbar den Kolportage-Autoren des 19. Jahrhunderts, über Master-Stories verfügten, die mit unterschiedlicher Besetzung zu unterschiedlichen Zeiten in das Gesamtwerk einfließen. Beispielhaft wird dieses aufgezeigt an der Erzählung von der verschacherten Ehefrau, deren Muster sich dreimal findet und die sich am Ende als Lagerfeuer-Erzählung der Nomaden erklärt, in der diese den Reiz ihrer Frauen und die Dummheit der von ihnen verachteten Städter feiern.

Werkzeuge der Statistik halfen, einzelne Erzählkomplexe bestimmten – bis heute weitgehend unbekannten – Autoren zuzuweisen.

Spahn: “Autoren sind oftmals daran zu erkennen, dass in ihren Texten spezifische Begriffe und Floskeln Verwendung finden, die bei anderen Autoren und zu anderen Zeiten nicht zum Einsatz kommen. So können wir beispielsweise davon ausgehen, dass ein deutschsprachiger Text, in dem eine Häufung des Begriffes ‘Nachhaltigkeit’ auffällt, keinesfalls vor den achtziger Jahren des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts verfasst worden sein kann. Umgekehrt finden wir beispielsweise in den Originalen der Romane der Volkschriftsteller May und Gerstäcker Begriffe, die schon einhundert Jahre später kein normal gebildeter Leser mehr kennt. Eine lebendige Sprache unterliegt einem permanenten Wandel. Begriffe, die keinen Nutzwert mehr haben, verschwinden, werden durch neue abgelöst. Andere Begriffe wandeln die mit ihnen verbundene Assoziation und können so – durch spätere Generationen gelesen – zu gänzlich falschen Interpretationen des geschriebenen Wortes führen.”

Wenn dieses heute so sei, fügt der Autor hinzu, dann sei dieses auch in der Antike nicht anders gewesen. Und so stelle sich die Frage, ob das, was wir heute in der Bibel selbst dann lesen, wenn wir auf den Aleppo-Codex des Tanach als älteste verfügbare Quelle in Ivrit zurückgreifen, tatsächlich so darin gestanden habe, wie wir es heute verstehen wollen oder sollen.

Nach diesen grundsätzlichen Fragestellungen richtete Spahn sein Augenmerk erneut auf den ursprünglichen Untersuchungsgegenstand: Dem König oder Mélék Josia, der in der hebräischen Originalschrift Jéáshéjah, der das Feuer des/von Jah ist, heißt. Die Bibel schreibt diesem einzigen Herrscher von Jahudah, dessen Erscheinen im Tanach prophezeit wird, zahlreiche Leistungen zu. Obgleich als Heidenkind – also Anhänger der assyrischen Götterwelt – aufgewachsen, bekehrt er sich zu dem einen Gott Jahuah, lässt dessen Tempel in Jerusalem renovieren und anschließend in einer großangelegten Aktion das Land von allen Stätten der Nicht-Jahuahisten “reinigen”. Bei der Renovierung des Tempels wird zufällig ein antikes Textwerk gefunden: Das Gesetzbuch des Mose. Und hier beginnen für Spahn die ebenso offensichtlichen wie bis heute verdrängten Ungereimtheiten. Denn das Buch Mose ist weder dem Herrscher noch seinen Getreuen als mosaisches Basiswerk bekannt. Theatralisch zerreißt Josia seine Kleider, klagt: „Wenn wir das gewusst hätten …!“

Wenn nun aber dem vorgeblich mosaischen Josia das Buch Mose nicht bekannt war – wäre das nicht ungefähr so, als wenn der katholische Papst ohne Evangelium oder der Ayatollah Chamenei seine klerikale Funktion ohne den Quran leben würde? Was also kann das für ein jüdischer Glaube gewesen sein, dem dieser Mélék vor dem Fund des mosaischen Gesetzes anhing?

Es ist nicht die einzige Ungereimtheit in diesem Text, die Spahn aufzeigt. Am Ende seiner Auseinandersetzung mit dieser Person und ihrem Umfeld steht für ihn fest, dass es “einen jüdischen Glauben in der Form, wie wir ihn heute kennen, vor 622 vor Christus nicht gegeben haben kann”. Seine in umfassender Analyse erarbeitete Darstellung der nahöstlichen Geschichte zwischen 630 und 580 liest sich dann auch gänzlich anders, als in allen Geschichtsbüchern und theologischen Werken beschrieben.

Spahn geht davon aus, dass es ein wirklich unabhängiges Königreich in Jahudah vor und nach Josia nicht gegeben hat. Die im Tanach beschriebenen “Könige” waren in aller Regel nichts anderes als Statthalter der jeweiligen Hegemonialmächte Ägypten, Assyrien und Babylon. Vor allem waren sie eines nicht: Genetische Nachfahren eines legendären David. Sie entstammten aus den führenden Familien Jerusalems – und “Söhne Davids” wurden sie nur deshalb, weil die Königschroniken zu jener Zeit von Indus bis Nil den jeweiligen Nachfolger im Amt als “Sohn” bezeichneten. Leibliche Söhne – so wird unter anderem anhand der Königschronik des assyrischen Herrschers Sanherib nachgewiesen – erhielten den Hinweis auf die Zeugung “aus meinen Lenden”, der sich in ähnlicher Form gelegentlich auch im Tanach findet.

Als Josia – vermutlich in Folge einer priesterlichen Intrige – an die Macht kommt, hat die vom Nil bis zum Tigris ausgedehnte Macht der Assyrer ihren Zenit bereits überschritten. Im fernen Babylon erhebt sich ein ehemaliger Offizier, dessen leiblicher Sohn Nebukadnezar dereinst zum Herrscher der damals bekannten Welt aufsteigen sollte. Nachweislich ist der Babylonier mit den Medern verbündet. Spahn geht davon aus – und findet dafür eine plausible Beweiskette – dass auch der assyrische Vasallenkönig Josia zu den Verschwörern gehörte. Um 626 vc stieß er zu den Aufrührern, schloss mit ihnen einen Geheimvertrag, den der Tanach als den “Bund des Jah” in zahlreichen Details beschreibt. Dem Jahudahi wurde unter dem Dach des künftigen Herrschers in Babylon absolute Selbstverwaltung garantiert. Das Land solle ihm auf alle Ewigkeit gehören, das Volk von Jahudah – im Gegensatz zu den gewaltsam unterworfenen Stämmen – als “sein Volk” im Reich eine privilegierte Stellung unter dem allmächtigen Herrscher am Euphrat erhalten. Mehr noch: Die damals als Handelszentrum aufblühende Metropole Jerusalem solle künftig der Hauptverwaltungssitz des zu schaffenden Großreichs für den Westen des Reichs werden. Dorthin hätten die Völker zu pilgern, ihre Abgaben zu entrichten und dem fernen Herrscher der Welt zu huldigen. Der Wohlstand der Region wäre damit langfristig gesichert gewesen, die Jahudahim von ewigen Vasallen zu Mitherrschern aufgestiegen.

Da es auf dieser Welt nichts umsonst gibt, erwartete der Rebell im fernen Babylon allerdings auch eine Gegenleistung. Josia sollte die Herrschaft der Assyrer in Jahudah und in den angrenzenden Ländern Israel – das niemals zuvor Teil eines jüdischen Reiches gewesen war und das die Jahudahim als Kénéýn (Kanaan) bezeichneten – und in der Mittelmeerküstenregion – dem assyrischen Land Chét, das für die Semiten auch das Land der Féléshétjm (korrekt übersetzt als “Eindringlinge”) ist – übernehmen.

Die Verbündeten gegen Assyrien verfolgen damit ein doppeltes Ziel: Zum einen sollten die Jahudahim eine zweite Front im Südwesten eröffnen. Die alliierten Babylonier und Meder drangen im Osten gegen die langjährige Hegemonialmacht vor. Josia sollte Kräfte binden, damit die Eroberung des assyrischen Kernlandes erleichtert werden konnte. Wichtiger noch aber war es, die damals ebenfalls zu Assyrien gehörenden Ägypter daran zu hindern, die Zentralmacht mit Nachschub und militärischen Kräften zu unterstützen.

“Jahudahs Hauptgegner in diesem Konflikt sind nicht die Assyrer, denn diese sind durch ihren Abwehrkampf gegen Babylon und Medien gebunden, sondern die Ägypter”, erläutert Spahn. Tatsächlich wird Josia seinen vertraglichen Verpflichtungen gerecht. Er schaltet das ehedem assyrische Jahudah gleich, erobert weite Teile der assyrischen Provinz Samaria (Shémérunah) – dem Israel des Tanach – und stellt sich dem ägyptischen Heer entgegen, als dieses im Jahr 609 vc entlang der Küste nach Norden zieht, um die zwischenzeitlich nach Haran geflohene assyrische Regierung zu entsetzen.

Damit dann allerdings endet der jahudahische Ausflug in die Weltgeschichte keine zwanzig Jahre, nachdem er begonnen hat. Bei seinem Versuch, sich dem Pharao, der zuvor noch in Unkenntnis des Geheimabkommens eine Neutralitätserklärung für das Reich des Josia abgibt, in den Weg zu stellen, wird der Herrscher Jerusalems getötet oder zumindest tödlich verwundet – womit der Tanach Jahuah ungewollt einer Lüge überführt, denn zuvor hatte der eine Gott seinem Anhänger einen friedlichen Tod voraussagen lassen. Das ägyptische Heer zieht weiter nach Norden, unterliegt dort jedoch militärisch den babylonischen Alliierten. Auf seinem Rückzug an den Nil besetzt der Pharao dennoch das geschwächte Jerusalem und setzt dort einen Statthalter ein, den der Tanach in seiner Legendenbildung ebenfalls zu einem davidischen König macht. Im Jahr 605 vc ist Babylon stark genug, nach Süden gegen Ägypten vorzugehen. Nun sind es die Babylonier, die Jerusalem übernehmen und dort Statthalter etablieren.

“Bemerkenswert dabei ist, dass Nebukadnezar sich immer noch der Verdienste der Jahudahim im Befreiungskampf erinnert. Der von Ägypten eingesetzte Statthalter ist der Spross eines der Männer, die maßgeblich am Zustandekommen des Geheimbundes mitgewirkt haben. Als dieser sich nun dem Babylonier unterwirft und Nebukadnezar in Babylon als seinen Allmächtigen anerkennt, darf er sein Amt – nunmehr von Babylons Gnaden – weiter ausüben”, so Spahn.

Doch die Nachfolger des Josia verspielen ihre Chance. Sie konspirieren weiter mit Ägypten und provozieren damit zwei Strafexpeditionen der Babylonier. 598 vc wird das abtrünnige Jerusalem erneut besetzt. Nebukadnezar sieht abermals von einem Strafgericht ab und setzt einen anderen Spross aus der jahudahischen Elite zum Statthalter ein. Auch dieser konspiriert mit Ägypten – 586 vc wird die Metropole erneut erobert und nunmehr zerstört. Nicht allerdings ohne dass die Babylonier zuvor mehrfach den Versuch unternommen hätten, über den im Tanach als “Jahuah Zébaut” bezeichneten, babylonischen Militärbefehlshaber und Gouverneur über die babylonische Provinz Israel die belagerten Jahudahim mit zahlreichen Zusicherungen für Leib und Leben zur freiwilligen Übergabe zu bewegen. Doch der vorgeblich letzte Mélék von Jahudah, der von Nebukadnezar mit der Bezeichnung Zedekia (Zédéqéjah – der Gerechte des/von Jah) eingesetzt worden war, ist längst nicht mehr Herr des Geschehens. Der Kampf wird von einer Militärjunta geführt – Zedekia ist nur noch ein Marionettenkönig.

“Mir ist bewusst, dass diese Version der Geschichte allem widerspricht, was für die Menschheit seit Jahrtausenden als Wirklichkeit gilt”, stellt Spahn fest. “Aber”, so fügt er hinzu, “die Analyse des Quelltextes und der Abgleich mit historischen Quellen lässt nur diese eine einzige Version als plausibel erkennen.”

Wie nun aber sind in diesem Kontext all die biblischen Erzählungen einzuordnen, die von früheren, monotheistischen Herrschern in Jerusalem zu berichten wissen?

Spahn hat auch dafür nachvollziehbare Erklärungen, die er mit Texten des Tanach und Fremdquellen belegen kann: “Die Bücher Mose – vielleicht nicht alle, aber deren Kernelemente – entstanden zwischen 626 und 622 vc als Arbeit einer kleinen, im Geheimen agierenden Schriftstellergruppe unter Leitung des Josia-Getreuen Chéléqéjah, den die Griechen als Hilkia übersetzt haben. Er, der ursprünglich ein Priester der weiblichen Regionalgottheit Ýnét (Anat) war und zum ersten Hohepriester des Jah wird, ist der eigentliche Strippenzieher im Hintergrund. Er macht das Kind Josia zum Mélék, er organisiert den Geheimbund des Jah mit den Babyloniern. Er leitet die aus Spenden der polytheistischen Bevölkerung finanzierte Renovierung des großen Tempels in Jerusalem, der zu diesem Zeitpunkt wie seit eh und je ein Tempel der weiblichen Gottheit Ashera gewesen ist. Er sorgt dafür, dass sich die Assyrien-treue Priesterelite arglos im Baals-Tempels zu Jerusalem trifft, um sich dort auf die Einsegnung des frisch renovierten Tempels der Ashera vorzubereiten. Er hat das Konzept entwickelt, die Elite des assyrischen Glaubens dort durch das königstreue Militär niedermetzeln und anschließend alle Stätten der Polytheisten niederbrennen zu lassen. Die Ausführung überlässt er dem Feuer des Jah – seinem Produkt Josia. Und Hilkia ist es auch, der im Geheimen das Gesetzbuch des Mose formulieren lässt, das der Bevölkerung als Glaubenskonzept des einen Gottes, der ausschließlich für das Volk von Jahudah zuständig ist, präsentiert wird und das die Initialzündung für den Befreiungskampf gegen Assyrien und Ägypten liefert.”

Deshalb, so der Politikwissenschaftler, muss beispielsweise Abraham aus Mesopotamien kommen. Die Babylonier werden so von einem fernen Stamm zu nahen Verwandten. Deshalb führt Abrahams Weg über Haran, das zu diesem Zeitpunkt Regierungssitz der Assyrer ist.

“So schreibt der Tanach den Anspruch fest, auch gegen Haran militärisch vorgehen zu können und die Illegalität der assyrischen Regierung darzulegen”, ist sich Spahn sicher. Deshalb auch werden die Ägypter, die Palästina seit Urzeiten als ihren Vorgarten betrachten, im Tanach zum Hauptfeind erklärt. Das Volk von Jahudah soll darauf vorbereitet werden, sich im äußersten Notfall gegen die Nachbarn vom Nil zu rüsten.

Nach dem dennoch durch falsche Einschätzung der weltpolitischen Lage unvermeidbaren Untergang Jerusalems setzt der entgegen seinem Bild in der Geschichtsschreibung für seine Zeit überaus humane und bedachte Herrscher der Welt, Nebukadnezar, mit Gedelja einen weiteren Spross aus befreundetem, Jerusalemer Hause ein. Der wird von seinem Jugendfreund Ismael als Verräter ermordet – und Judäa wird abschließend zum Teil der babylonischen Provinz Israel. Die überlebende städtische Elite der Jahudahim zieht es nach Babylon, wo die Männer Karriere machen und die kurze Geschichte ihres Staates mit Billigung der babylonischen Staatsmacht in ein religiöses Manifest verwandeln. Die pro-ägyptische Militärelite zieht es – begleitet von einem langjährigen Agenten und Propagandisten Babylons, den die christliche Bibel unter dem Namen Jeremia kennt – nach Ägypten, wo sich ihre Spur verliert. Im Land selbst verbleiben die sogenannten kleinen Leute. Ihre Herkunft ist teilweise semitisch, teilweise anatolisch, teilweise griechisch, teilweise vielleicht sogar kurdisch. Ihnen gemein ist, dass sie nach wie vor an ihre polytheistische Götterwelt glauben und sich in der aramäischen Sprache der Assyrer verständigen.

“All dieses steht – wenn auch verklausuliert – im Tanach. Die Bücher Josua und Könige werden im Wesentlichen in Josias Herrschaftsjahren zwischen 622 und 609 vc verfasst worden sein. Sie schaffen mit einer großartig angelegten Gründungslegende den politischen Anspruch auf die Herrschaft über die Region zwischen Mittelmeer und hinaus über den Jordan, zwischen dem östlichen Mündungsarm des Nils und Haran. Sie greifen wie die späteren Werke des Buches Jesaja, eines Propheten, den es nie gegeben hat und der ein literarisches alter ego des Hilkia ist, und die Chronik auf zeitgenössische Königsannalen anderer Archive zurück, wenn beispielsweise der Mélék Hiskia, der als chéßéqéjah niemand anderes als ein Starker des beziehungsweise von Jah ist und sich mit Sanherib anlegte, zu einem Vorläufer des Josia verklärt wird oder dem ebenfalls dokumentierten assyrischen Vasall Jehu die tatsächliche Vorgehensweise bei der Vernichtung der polytheistischen Elite zugeschrieben wird.

Die Judäababylonier, Männer wie der Schriftgelehrte Esra und die Bruderschaft der Leviten, welche sich unmittelbar aus jener geheimen Kerngruppe um Hilkia entwickelte, sind die eigentlichen Väter der jüdischen Religion. Ohne sie wäre das aus propagandistischen Gründen klerikal verbrämte, machtpolitische Projekt des Josia nach dessen Tode im Sande verlaufen. Eigentlicher Gründervater dessen, aus dem sich das moderne Judentum entwickelte, ist ausgerechnet ein Perser. Es war ein persischer Nachfolger auf dem Thron des Nebukadnezar, der sich von den Judäababyloniern von dem Konzept einer wehrhaften, anti-ägyptischen Kommune im nach wie vor assyrisch geprägten Palästina überzeugen ließ und die Mittel bereit stellte, um seinen Siedlern, die sich zu einem Großteil aus den Nachfahren unter Sanherib verschleppter Israeli rekrutierten, mit einem zentralen Tempel in Jerusalem das Zentrum einer gemeinsamen Identität zu geben, die die jüdische mit der israelischen zusammenführt. Es war dieses der erste Tempel in der Heiligen Stadt, der zu Ehren eines Gottes Jahuah errichtet wurde. Er stand, bis die Römer ihn im Jahr 70 als Reaktion auf einen Aufstand der Juden zerstörten.“

Spahn hat all diese Überlegungen, die für ihn keine Gedankenspiele, sondern die Basis der historischen Wahrheit sind, in vier Bänden veröffentlicht. Und ihm ist bewusst, dass er damit die theologischen Fundamente dreier Weltreligionen berührt.

„Je länger ich mich mit meinen Analysen beschäftigte, desto deutlicher wurde mir, dass die Ergebnisse im Zweifel auch politisch missbraucht werden könnten. Denn sie machen beispielsweise deutlich, dass es einen Glaubensjuden namens David, auf den sich der gegenwärtige Premierminister Israels gern zur Begründung seines Handelns beruft, nie gegeben hat. Sie machen auch deutlich, dass die Urväter Abraham, Ismael und Isaak, auf die sich drei Weltreligionen berufen, nichts anderes als Sagengestalten sind, die aus politischen Gründen Einzug in das religiöse Basiswerk finden mussten. Aber rechtfertigt das, die Ergebnisse der Untersuchung der Menschheit vorzuenthalten? Die Religionen werden nicht daran zu Grunde gehen, wenn sie sich mit einer Geschichte ihres Ursprungs beschäftigen, die anders aussieht, als sie es in ihre Heiligen Bücher hineininterpretiert haben.

Vielleicht aber auch mögen die Ergebnisse meiner Untersuchung ein Anstoß dazu sein, die eigentliche Funktion von Religion in das rechte Licht zu rücken. Den Glaube ist nichts anderes als die Wahrheitsunterstellung einer nicht beweisbaren Annahme. Er bedarf weder der Historizität noch scheinhistorischer Begründungen. Glaube ruht in uns – nicht in der historischen Wahrheit. Das Konzept des Josia war ein politisch motivierter, gemeinsam mit mächtigen Verbündeten perfekt erdachter Masterplan, um sich und das eigene Volk von einer im Bewusstsein der Betroffenen schon ewig währenden Fremdherrschaft zu befreien. Es musste ein religiöses werden, weil es damit für die Zeitgenossen unangreifbar wurde.“

Schon vor dem selbstverschuldeten Untergang Jerusalems sei aus dem Bündnispartner erst eine Figur geworden, die die in der griechischen Übersetzung zu Propheten mutierenden, babylonischen Verbindungsleute wie Jeremia und Hesekiel in ihren Unterlagen mit den hebräischen Buchstaben für J-H-W-H abkürzten. Über den Weg der in babylonischen Archiven wirkenden Schriftgelehrten wurde der allmächtige Herrscher der Welt namens Nebukadnezar zu dem Gott, den Juden, Christen und Muslime bis heute als himmlisches Wesen verehren – und der als historische Person auch gerade deshalb zutiefst diffamiert wurde.

Spahn: „Der Tanach ist ein auch nach heutigen Maßstäben perfekt verfasstes Propagandastück mit dem ausschließlichen Ziel politischer Weltveränderung. Dass es dabei die lebenslustige Vielfalt des sehr menschlichen, polytheistischen Götterhimmels durch einen einzigen autoritären Allmächtigen ersetzte und die bis dahin in der Religion gleichberechtigte Frau in die gesellschaftliche Bedeutungslosigkeit schob, war durchaus gewollt. Die stammesdemokratischen Elemente, über die selbst der Tanach zu berichten weiß, gehörten abgeschafft, um einen aus der Sicht der Mächtigen effektiven Staat zu schaffen. Und die Frau? Sie fand sich bis zum Zeitpunkt des Staatsrevolution des Josia als ‚die Gebährende‘ in der Stellvertretung der Ashera in Jerusalem als höchste klerikale Instanz wieder. Mächtiger noch als der Mélék selbst. Deswegen machten die Autoren des Tanach sie einerseits zur Prophetin, andererseits erniedrigten sie die Dame hintersinnig mit nur einem Federstrich zu einem gebärfreudigen Nager. Aus der h‘lédah, der für Fruchtbarkeit stehenden Leda der Polytheisten, wurde chélédah, das gebärfreudige Nagetier. Kennern der griechischen Bibel ist sie als Hulda bekannt. Pointierter konnten die antiken Autoren vom Männerbund der Leviten ihre Verachtung für die Frau nicht dokumentieren.“

Tomas M. Spahn: Das Biblikon-Projekt – Die Entschlüsselung des Bibel-Codes

Band 1 – Von Adam zu Mose, ISBN 978-3-943726-01-5 (EP 17,80 €)

Band 2 – Das Feuer des Jah, ISBN 978-3-943726-02-2 (EP 17,80 €)

Band 3 – Der Erhabene des Jah, ISBN 978-3-943726-03-9 (EP 19,80 €)

Band 4 – Demokratie oder Gottesstaat, ISBN 978-3-943726-04-6 (EP 22,80 €)


Anti-Semitism, A Warning Sign for Europe

November 29, 2013

An op-ed by David Harris
Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee
El Pais, November 29, 2013

davidharris

The European Union has had its share of daunting challenges.

From sluggish growth to punishing austerity, from high levels of unemployment to fears of brain drain, and from volatile political environments to relentless migration, there are more than enough issues to keep EU and national leaders focused 24/7. And while some countries are more at risk than others, the ties that bind the 28 member states mean that no one is entirely immune from the gusty winds and storm clouds.

Now, there is another issue to add to the list. Earlier this month, the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) issued a comprehensive study on the experiences of Jews in eight of the 28 nations – Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom—whose Jews comprise 90% of the EU’s total Jewish population. Nearly 6,000 respondents took part.

Confirming the findings of earlier surveys done by outside groups and local Jewish communities, it raises serious concern. That concern should not be limited to Jews, since when Europe’s Jews feel at risk, the EU as a whole is endangered in two ways.

First, the EU’s laudable commitment to protecting the human dignity of each of its citizens is jeopardized.

And second, the history of anti-Semitism demonstrates that, ultimately, those who target Jews usually have democracy itself, including the rights of minority groups, in their crosshairs. In other words, bigotry may begin with Jews, but it rarely ends with them.

Here are some of the disturbing findings from the just-published FRA report:

Two-thirds of Jewish respondents consider anti-Semitism to be a problem today in their countries.

Three-fourths believe the problem has gotten worse in the past five years.

One-third fears a physical attack against themselves, as Jews, within the next 12 months.

More than one-half claim they personally witnessed an incident where the Holocaust was denied, trivialized, or exaggerated.

Twenty-three percent say they at least occasionally avoid attending Jewish events or visiting Jewish sites because of safety concerns.

And more than 40 percent of those surveyed in Belgium, France, and Hungary indicate they have considered emigrating because of the situation.

Equally troubling, to quote the study, is the following result: “A majority of the victims of anti-Semitic harassment (76%), physical violence or threats (64%), or vandalism of personal property (53%) did not report the most serious incident, namely the one that most affected the respondent, in the past five years to the police or to any other organization.”

In other words, if the majority of victims of anti-Semitic incidents are not even reporting them to the authorities, then they do not have confidence in the system, fear retribution from the perpetrators, are unaware of where to go for help, or have somehow come to accept the bigoted behavior as part of the “price” of being Jewish.

Whatever the explanation, it is unacceptable. Going forward, EU governments should strive mightily to ensure not only a dramatic decline in the number of anti-Semitic incidents, but also that those that do occur are reported to the proper authorities. Citizens of a democratic society should never have to feel helpless or abandoned.

And it should make no difference if the anti-Semitic act comes from extreme-right, extreme-left, radical Islamic, or other sources. Targeting an individual because of his or her specific group identity – in this case, as a Jew – is a potential hate crime, and should be treated as such.

AJC has devoted many years to developing response strategies to bias incidents, whether against Jews, Christians, Muslims, homosexuals, Africans, or others, and certain things are clear.

First, attitudes of tolerance or intolerance, respect or lack of respect, are formed primarily at home and at a young age.

Second, political leadership counts. Either governments act against bigotry, both symbolically and substantively, or, too often, they end up countenancing or rationalizing it. Neutrality is not an option.

Third, education, if utilized properly, can help teach respect and appreciation for difference. Otherwise, it is a lost opportunity.

Fourth, religious leaders can promote interfaith dialogue and friendship or, conversely, religious obscurantism and triumphalism. Which will it be?

And finally, the police and judiciary must understand the specific nature of hate crimes, collect proper data, and treat cases with the seriousness they merit.

The EU’s FRA report is a wake-up call. Sleeping through it, or pretending not to hear it, is not an option.


Israelkongress 2013: Verleihung des Arno-Lustiger-Ehrenpreises an Michael Sommer

November 10, 2013

Laudator: Jochen Feilcke, MdB a.D., Vorsitzender Deutsch-Israelischen Gesellschaft Berlin und Potsdam

“Lieber Michael, wir ehren deine langjährigen Verdienste um den Staat Israel und freuen uns, dir diesen Preis zu überreichen “

Preisträger: Michael Sommer, Bundesvorsitzender, Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB)

“Ich möchte daran erinnern, dass bereits vor der Aufnahme deutsch-israelischer diplomatischer Beziehungen, die Gewerkschaften beider Länder Beziehungen zueinander pflegten.” Michael Sommer


President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon

February 21, 2011

In a documentary airing today at 10:00 PM EST on MSNBC, political commentator Chris Matthews calls President Bill Clinton a one-man Peace Corps.


From his life-changing work with the Clinton Foundation and his disaster relief efforts for the Indian Ocean Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake, to his humanitarian actions to free two journalists from North Korea and the convening power of the Clinton Global Initiative that brings together businesses, governments, nonprofits, and individuals to implement real solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges – his work today is directly improving hundreds of millions of lives. It is not a stretch to say what he has accomplished with friends and supporters is truly changing the world.

Chris Matthews tags along with the 42nd president of the United States for "President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon," airing today.

Chris Matthews tags along with the 42nd president of the United States for “President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon,” airing today.

This President’s Day, there will be a special documentary: The President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon, February 21, 2011, 10:00 PM EST on MSNBC, about the 10 years since President Bill Clinton left office.

Read full story.


“How Can You Defend Israel?” Part II

January 2, 2011

An op-ed by David A. Harris
Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee
The Jerusalem Post, Januar 2, 2011

Since writing “How can you defend Israel?” last month, I’ve been deluged by comments. Some have been supportive, others harshly critical. The latter warrant closer examination.

The harsh criticism falls into two basic categories.

One is over the top.

It ranges from denying Israel’s very right to nationhood, to ascribing to Israel responsibility for every global malady, to peddling vague, or not so vague, anti-Semitic tropes.

There’s no point in dwelling at length on card-carrying members of these schools of thought. They’re living on another planet.

Israel is a fact. That fact has been confirmed by the UN, which, in 1947, recommended the creation of a Jewish state. The UN admitted Israel to membership in 1949. The combination of ancient and modern links between Israel and the Jewish people is almost unprecedented in history. And Israel has contributed its share, and then some, to advancing humankind.

If there are those on a legitimacy kick, let them examine the credentials of some others in the region, created by Western mapmakers eager to protect their own interests and ensure friendly leaders in power.

Or let them consider the basis for legitimacy of many countries worldwide created by invasion, occupation, and conquest. Israel’s case beats them by a mile.

And if there are people out there who don’t like all Jews, frankly, it’s their problem, not mine. Are there Jewish scoundrels? You bet. Are there Christian, Muslim, atheist, and agnostic scoundrels? No shortage. But are all members of any such community by definition scoundrels? Only if you’re an out-and-out bigot.

The other group of harsh critics assails Israeli policies, but generally tries to stop short of overt anti-Zionism or anti-Semitism. But many of these relentless critics, at the slightest opportunity, robotically repeat claims about Israel that are not factually correct.

There are a couple of methodological threads that run through their analysis.

The first is called confirmation bias. This is the habit of favoring information that confirms what you believe, whether it’s true or not, and ignoring the rest.

While Israel engages in a full-throttled debate on policies and strategies, rights and wrongs, do Israel’s fiercest critics do the same? Hardly.

Can the chorus of critics admit, for example, that the UN recommended the creation of two states – one Jewish, the other Arab – and that the Jews accepted the proposal, while the Arabs did not and launched a war?

Can they acknowledge that wars inevitably create refugee populations and lead to border adjustments in favor of the (attacked) victors?

Can they recognize that, when the West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands until 1967, there was no move whatsoever toward Palestinian statehood?

Can they explain why Arafat launched a “second intifada” just as Israel and the U.S. were proposing a path-breaking two-state solution?

Or what the Hamas Charter says about the group’s goals?

Or what armed-to-the-teeth Hezbollah thinks of Israel’s right to exist?

Or how nuclear-weapons-aspiring Iran views Israel’s future?

Or why President Abbas rejected Prime Minister Olmert’s two-state plan, when the Palestinian chief negotiator himself admitted it would have given his side the equivalent of 100 percent of the West Bank?

Or why Palestinian leaders refuse to recognize the Western Wall or Rachel’s Tomb as Jewish sites, while demanding recognition of Muslim holy sites?

Or why Israel is expected to have an Arab minority, but a state of Palestine is not expected to have any Jewish minority?

Can they admit that, when Arab leaders are prepared to pursue peace with Israel rather than wage war, the results have been treaties, as the experiences of Egypt and Jordan show?

And can they own up to the fact that when it comes to liberal and democratic values in the region, no country comes remotely close to Israel, whatever its flaws, in protecting these rights?

Apropos, how many other countries in the Middle East – or beyond – would have tried and convicted an ex-president? This was the case, just last week, with Moshe Katsav, sending the message that no one is above the law – in a process, it should be noted, presided over by an Israeli Arab justice.

And if the harsh critics can’t acknowledge any of these points, what’s the explanation? Does their antipathy for Israel – and resultant confirmation bias – blind them to anything that might puncture their airtight thinking?

Then there is the other malady. It’s called reverse causality, or switching cause and effect.

Take the case of Gaza.

These critics focus only on Israel’s alleged actions against Gaza, as if they were the cause of the problem. In reality, they are the opposite – the effect.

When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it gave local residents their first chance in history – I repeat, in history – to govern themselves.

Neighboring Israel had only one concern – security. It wanted to ensure that whatever emerged in Gaza would not endanger Israelis. In fact, the more prosperous, stable, and peaceful Gaza became, the better for everyone. Tragically, Israel’s worst fears were realized. Rather than focus on Gaza’s construction, its leaders – Hamas since 2007 – preferred to contemplate Israel’s destruction. Missiles and mortars came raining down on southern Israel. Israel’s critics, though, were silent. Only when Israel could no longer tolerate the terror did the critics awaken – to focus on Israel’s reaction, not Gaza’s provocative action.

Yet, what would any other nation have done in Israel’s position?

Just imagine terrorists in power in British Columbia – and Washington State’s cities and towns being the regular targets of deadly projectiles. How long would it take for the U.S. to go in and try to put a stop to the terror attacks, and what kind of force would be used?

Or consider the security barrier.

It didn’t exist for nearly 40 years. Then it was built by Israel in response to a wave of deadly attacks originating in the West Bank, with well over 1000 Israeli fatalities (more than 40,000 Americans in proportional terms). Even so, Israel made clear that such barriers cannot only be erected, but also moved and ultimately dismantled.

Yet the outcry of Israel’s critics began not when Israelis were being killed in pizzerias, at Passover Seders, and on buses, but only when the barrier went up.

Another case of reverse causality – ignoring the cause entirely and focusing only on the effect, as if it were a stand-alone issue disconnected from anything else.

So, again, in answer to the question of my erstwhile British colleague, “How can you defend Israel?” I respond: Proudly.

In doing so, I am defending a liberal, democratic, and peace-seeking nation in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood, where liberalism, democracy, and peace are in woefully short supply.

Reprinted with kind permission of The Jerusalem Post.


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.


“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.


Happy HANUKKAH! – The Jewish Festival of Lights

November 30, 2010

A message from Norbert Wied
CEO Carl Schurz Foundation

Frankfurt am Main, Germany, November 30, 2010

From December 1-9, 2010, Hanukkah (Chanukah), also known as the Festival of Lights, will be celebrated by Jews around the world. It is an eight-day holiday that starts on the 25th of the month of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar, and continues till the 2nd of the month of Tevet.

Hanukkah commemorates the miracle that happened after the Jew’s 164 B.C.E. victory over the Hellenist Syrians. Antiochus IV, the Greek King of Syria, had forbidden the observance of Judaism under penalty of death and had forced Jews to worship Greek gods.

After the victory, a Temple lamp has been lighted and although the lamp had oil for only one day, it stayed miraculously lit for eight days until a new supply of oil could be prepared. Hanukkah is observed by lighting one Hanukkah light of the Menorah (candelabrum) on each of the eight holiday nights, progressing to eight lights on the final night of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah festivities include games (especially Dreidel), gift-giving to children and gathering for enjoying traditional foods. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday and its religious significance is far less than that of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Shavu’ot. It is roughly equivalent to Purim in significance. On the other hand, Hanukkah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays because of its proximity to Christmas. Some orthodox groups criticize the adoption of many Christmas customs, such as gift-giving and decoration, making Hanukkah the most secular holiday of the Jewish calendar.

Hanukkah began to find new expression in the years leading up to the founding of the modern state of Israel and has developed into a holiday rich with historical significance, physical and supernatural miracle narratives, and a dialogue with Jewish history.

I wish all Jews around the world: CHAG CHANUKKAH SAMEACH!

♪♫ “Chanukah, Oh Chanukah!” – A traditional Hanukkah song,  sung by Theodore Bikel, first in Yiddish, then in English, then in Hebrew: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxH0xF84h_0

♪♫ “Ma’oz Tzur” – a Jewish liturgical poem or piyyut. It is written in Hebrew, and is often sung on the holiday of Hanukkah, after lighting the festival lights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7U1CHqe9eg

♪♫ “Mi Yimalel” (Who can retell) – A traditional Hanukkah song here performed by Craig Taubman, The Tribe & Alberto Mizzahi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPUUjmn_Wk0

♪♫ “Lich’vod Hachanukkah” – by Chaim Nachman Bialik, a traditional Chanukah song sung by THE WESTERN WIND and Fran Avni: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FbooXzSiQk


The Meaning of Hiram in Freemasonry and Judaism

November 27, 2010

Forever Faithful and Forthright, We Pledge Ourselves to Guard The Light. (The Magic Flute, Mozart)

All men are equal; it is not their birth, but virtue itself that makes the difference. (Voltaire)

It is a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right. (Winston Churchill)

HIRAM

HIRAM

Hiram Abiff & the ever-dying gods

by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple, Emeritus Rabbi of the Great Synagoge, Sydney. Past Grand Chaplain of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales.

This paper was delivered at the Discovery Lodge of Research, Sydney, on January 27, 2010.

***

In the third degree ritual the central feature is the death and upraising of Hiram Abiff. It brings solemnity and drama into the occasion, though our version lacks the theatricality of some other rites which use costumes and elaborate dialogue. All versions believe it is a true story that happened at the time when Solomon constructed the Temple in Jerusalem, but those who look for Biblical backing are bound to be disappointed.

In an article I wrote for the “NSW Freemason” in 1978 I examined the view of W. Bro. Rev. Morris Rosenbaum concerning the Biblical account as found – with intriguing differences – in the First Books of Kings and the Second Book of Chronicles. The relevant chapters are I Kings 5, where Solomon asks his friend Hiram king of Tyre for building materials; and II Chronicles 2, where he asks him also for an expert artisan. Both passages feature a – non-royal – Hiram, who in one account appears to be an architect-craftsman and in the other an artisan skilled in working with brass. Both are called Hiram in tribute to the king: it is possible that Hiram was a generic name for a king of Tyre, like the title Pharaoh for a king of Egypt.

Rosenbaum thought there were two separate Hirams. The Hiram of the Book of Kings is the son of “a widow of the tribe of Naphtali”: the one in Chronicles is the son of “a woman of the daughters of Dan”. If there are two Hirams the mother of one is from Naphtali and the mother of the second from Dan; if there is only one, which I will argue in a moment, his father is from Naphtali and his mother from Dan. The connection with Tyre is more than geographic co-incidence, since there was a Tyrian school of craftsmanship and Solomon wanted to use Tyrian expertise.

Next problem: if Hiram (or at least one of them) is the son of a widow, his father is dead. II Chronicles mentions Hiram aviv, “Hiram his father”. Maybe Hiram the father started the work and Hiram the son completed it. This is the view of the 19th century commentator Malbim, who quotes I Kings 7:40 and II Chron. 4:11, though Malbim may have been influenced by the Masonic legend that Hiram was murdered; when I Kings 7:13 says that Solomon “sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre” it may mean that an escort was sent to bring the younger Hiram to Jerusalem to finish his father’s work.

This in outline is Rosenbaum’s theory, but I believe he has read too much into the scriptural account. The Books of Chronicles are not always objective history and it is possible that we have not two Hirams but two versions of the one narrative with slight differences between them.

If then there was only one Hiram, how are we to handle the reference to “Hiram his father”, with its implication that father and son were both involved in the work? The answer is that av, a father, does not necessarily mean a parent. It can also be an originator or master. Hence the title “Hiram Abif(f)” tells us of Hiram’s professional status as a master craftsman, not about his parentage. Even so, there is no objective evidence that one Hiram dropped out and another replaced him. It is more likely that there was only one Hiram and the Bible does not record his eventual fate.

For that we have to go to legend. In a moment we will examine the Masonic version, but first we need to know whether Jewish Midrash knows of a murder during the building works and whether the victim could have been Hiram. There are Midrashim (e.g. Pesikta Rabbati, Friedmann ed., 1880, p. 25a) which hold that some of the builders met an unusual death, but Freemasonry compresses the tragedy into the death of one builder, the foreman, and though the midrashic material speaks of the dead men entering the afterlife, Freemasonry thinks the foreman was restored to earthly existence, though it is silent as to his subsequent life.

The Midrash asserts that whilst the Temple was being built none of the workmen died or even became ill, enabling the project to proceed apace – presumably illustrating the principle that God protects those who are engaged on a sacred mission (Talmud Pesachim 8a). However, once the project was completed, they all died, for God wished to prevent heathens using the Temple builders to erect idolatrous shrines, illustrating the rule that one must ascend in sanctity and not descend (Talmud B’rachot 28a). The builders were assured of a rich heavenly reward, and as for Hiram the master craftsman himself, he went straight to Paradise and never tasted real death (Louis Ginzberg, “Legends of the Jews”, vol. 4, page 155 and notes).

There is a midrashic idea that nine people did not die in the usual way but entered Paradise alive. These included Enoch and Elijah… and Hiram king of Tyre (Derech Eretz Zuta 1:9; Yalkut, Gen. 42 and Ezek. 36:7).

The commentators debate whether Hiram really deserves a place in the list, but in any case the reference must be to Hiram the craftsman and not Hiram the king. The formulators of Masonic ritual possibly knew enough Hebrew to access rabbinic works, but they totally changed the Midrash to make Hiram die a very earthly death at the hands of the other workmen and then rise from the dead. They must have been influenced by Christian tradition about the death of Jesus, though they were careful not to turn the story into an antisemitic canard. However, we should not read too much theology into the Masonic story, which probably has contemporary political motives.

If the story as we have it has been deliberately crafted (I dislike the stronger term “fabricated”) with a basis in the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish Midrash, we must still investigate whether there are additional sources from other cultures. But first we have to add one more attempt, over and above those of countless historians, to posit a theory of Masonic beginnings.

There are three main historical theories about Masonry. One begins at the time of Creation with God as Great Architect, Grand Geometrician and Master Builder, Adam as the first Grand Master, and Masonry as a thread running through ancient history. The second does not make claims about Biblical times but posits a fellowship of builders working on the great edifices of the Middle Ages. The third sees Enlightenment man creating cultural-scientific societies to study ideas and ethics and giving them a pre-history, a well-known habit developed in the interests of credibility.

The third theory is bound up with 17th and 18th century events. The Stuarts ruled England from 1643-1688, except for 1649-1660 after Charles I had been executed by Parliament under Oliver Cromwell. The last Stuart, James II, had to abdicate in 1688. After the Hanoverian George I assumed the monarchy in 1714, the Stuarts mounted invasions in 1715 and 1745 via Scotland but failed to win back the throne. They lived in exile in France with support from some quarters in England. They were called “Jacobites”, from the Latin (and prior to that the Hebrew) for “James”. Some Jacobites were Masons, including Bonnie Prince Charlie, the grandson of James II; some French and Italian lodges were entirely comprised of Jacobites, who may have adopted or invented Hiram Abiff to represent the executed Charles I and to express their belief in the restoration of the Stuarts.

Plans for the return of the Stuarts were made in secret vaults which may have been Masonic lodges. HA’s refusal to divulge a secret bolstered the pledges of confidentiality which these Brothers made to each other. This theory implies that Jacobite influences were involved in the development of Masonic ritual, which was the combination of the ideas and efforts of a number of men, notably Anderson, Desaguliers and Preston, though they might have been kept in the dark about the hidden agenda of Jacobite lodges.

Hiram’s name was not new to the authors of the third degree since he is referred as the master artisan in the Regius Poem of c 1390. The first time we find the Hiram legend in a degree ritual is in the 1730 pamphlet, Freemasonry Dissected, by Samuel Prichard, though there was a rival attempt to give Freemasonry a death/resurrection story in the narrative of Noah and his sons (Graham MS, 1726; cf. Harry Carr, “Hebraic Aspects of the Ritual”, Ars Quatuor Coronatum, vol. 97, 1984, page 77).

Hiram Abiff conveyed the message better because the Noah story lacked betrayal, violence, martyrdom and revenge, even though there was a theory that his sons put his body together again after he died. Hence HA supplanted Noah and settled into the newly created third degree.

The idea of Hiram as Charles I might derive from Elias Ashmole (1617-92), the antiquarian, lawyer and alchemist who is the first (or second) known Speculative Freemason, initiated in 1646. Ashmole (like other early Speculatives, Robert Moray, Inigo Jones and Nicholas Stone) was a Royalist and a supporter of Charles II, and his lodge may have practised Masonic ritual with a Royalist meaning. However, we do not know enough about the ways of early Speculative lodges and can only conjecture.

C.S. Madhavan of the Grand Lodge of India notes that a drastic change entered Freemasonry between the first and second editions of Anderson’s Constitutions. In the first edition in 1723 we read only that “The king of Tyre sent (Solomon) his namesake Hiram Abif, ‘prince of architects’”. The second edition in 1738 speaks of the sudden death of Hiram Abiff who was interred “in the Lodge near the Temple”. The new wording shows that the displacement of Noah by HA had taken place between 1723 and 1738.

The change must have had something to do with Prichard, whose work was published in 1730, but we need more than circumstantial evidence. English Masons would presumably have welcomed the general idea of a good man who died and rose again and would have been on familiar territory in linking royal history with poetic symbolism in view of the well-loved legends of King Arthur, the symbol of chivalry and idealism, about whom Tennyson later wrote, “He passes to be King among the dead/And after healing of his grievous wound/He comes again” (Idylls of the King, 1859).

The Hiram Abiff story was not concocted out of thin air. On the other hand no-one has found any proof that there really was a Hiram Abiff who was murdered on the Temple site and then brought back to life by his supporters. Nor has anyone proved that there was an Israelite custom to pray at “high twelve”, to bury a person in proximity to the Temple, or to place an acacia sprig on a grave. There is also no proof that the real Hiram (unless he was the king of Tyre) was on close terms with King Solomon.

HA is a cultural typology developed at and reflecting the mores of a later time. Its lineage appears to have travelled through two disparate lines:
• the well known concept of gods and messiahs that die and overcome their death (examples are Osiris, Isis, Horus and Tammuz), an idea that appealed to members of secret or other societies who saw true believers martyred but the cause survive;
• widespread accounts of disasters that occurred during the building of churches, palaces and other major edifices.

The first idea has a modern equivalent in Nietzsche’s Death of God theory, plus the religious insistence that God will make a comeback. In Jewish thinking the Death of God is inconceivable, since it is an article of faith that God was not born and cannot die (“I am the first and I am the last”: Isa. 44:6), though in a metaphorical sense it could possibly tolerate the Nietzschean notion that human beings had “killed” Him. Christianity might be thought of as receptive to a Hiram Abiff narrative as consonant with the history of Jesus. However, it is difficult to reconcile a pro-Christian interpretation with the Andersonian dechristianisation of Masonic ritual, though there is admittedly a more Christian element in the Royal Arch.

Whatever the case, it is likely that this is one more example of how Masonry utilised well-known strands of folklore to construct its narratives and rituals, often starting with sketchy Biblical material but adding so much from other sources that it almost completely changed the original story. Other examples are the stories about King Solomon and the dedication of his temple, which, though crucial to the craft, should not be taken literally but understood as an amalgam of folk ideas and literary imagination.

All Masonic writers attach symbolic significance to the HA story, regardless of its origins and political significance. A popular interpretation links it to the three stages of life; as the first degree symbolises birth, when one begins to glimpse light, the second stands for manhood, when one toils toward wisdom and experience, and the third represents old age, when human powers gradually wane but one yearns for a life after death.

Perhaps Anderson and Desaguliers, unaware of or unconvinced by Jacobite political theories, decided to incorporate HA into the third degree because the death/resurrection theme appealed to them as Christians. In 1775 William Hutchinson wrote in his Spirit of Masonry, “The Master Mason represents a man under the Christian doctrine, saved from the grave of iniquity, and raised to the faith of salvation”. The dechristianisation of the craft must inevitably have been difficult for some Masons.

However, with or without christological issues the narrative illustrates and justifies the doctrine that goodness must and will prevail over doubt and difficulty, and is evidence of the common phenomenon whereby a custom or story loses its original significance, undergoes reinterpretation and rationalisation, and gains a new message and mission.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Raymond Apple, “Who was Hiram Abiff?”, The NSW Freemason, Dec., 1978
Harry Carr, “Hebraic Aspects of the Ritual”, Ars Quatuor Coronatum, vol. 97, 1984
W.W. Covey-Crump, The Hiramic Tradition, 1934
Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, various eds., vol. 4
R.F. Gould, History of Freemasonry, 5 vols., 1905
W.B. Hextall, “The Hiramic Legend and the Ashmolean Theory”, Transactions of the Leicester Lodge of Research, 1903-04
Bernard E. Jones, Freemason’s Guide and Compendium, 1950
Jacob Katz, Out of the Ghetto, 1978
C.S. Madhavan, “The Hiramic Legend” (http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com)
Alexander Piatigorsky, Who’s Afraid of Freemasons?, 1997
Morris Rosenbaum, “Hiram Abif: The Traditional History Illustrated by the Volume of the Sacred Law”, Transactions of the Leicester Lodge of Research, 1903-04
Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah, 1974

 Copyright © 2010 Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple & HIRAM7 REVIEW


Earl Shugerman’s Corner: NES AMMIM 2010 – Interfaith Dialogue in Israel

November 25, 2010

Earl Shugerman brings every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel.

NES AMMIM 2010

 

Nes Ammim (Hebrew: נֵס עַמִּים‎, lit. Banner of the Nations) is a Christian community in the northern district of Israel.

Nes Ammim (Hebrew: נֵס עַמִּים‎, lit. Banner of the Nations) is a Christian community in the northern district of Israel.

 

An important fact that people should know about Israel is that roughly twenty percent of Israeli citizens are Muslim, Christian and Druze. The seven million citizens of pre-1967 borders manage to live together in a fairly democratic, but far from perfect society. Many Israelis of all backgrounds are trying to improve our society and its political awareness.

Once a month I participate in a joint prayer meeting with the Focolare. The Focolare is the largest Catholic outreach movement with five million members. The Focolare movement is an international organization based on ideals of unity and universal brotherhood. The movement was founded in Trent Italy 1944 by Chiara Lubich. Chiara was just a teenager when she decided to found the movement. During this period, Italy was occupied by the Allies. Chiara made a choice to stay in Trent to help the wounded and the homeless. Seeing the horrors of war first hand she and her friends had vowed to live a humble life and yet to promote peace and brotherhood throughout the world using Catholicism as their base. However, they have strong connections to different denominations and various faiths. The Focolare movement is present today in 182 nations. Through a network of eighteen branches the Focolare has an impact on both eclectic and secular life. Our meetings are held at Or Hadash Synagogue in Haifa, and hosted by Rabbi Edgar Nof.

Each summer the movement holds local retreats over 100 worldwide, where members and new comers come together to discuss the movement and enhance spirituality. The first such meeting was held in Italy in 1949, while today 200.000 people participate from all over the world. Many of the people who attend are Catholics, but members of other faiths participate as well. I and my fellow congregates from Or Hadash attended this year’s event in Israel. Kibbutz Nes Ammim hosted the activity.

The Nes Amim Christian kibbutz is located between Naharia and Nazareth (all in the area of west Galilee) the home of Mary Magdalene and residence where Jesus was raised. The kibbutz was founded by various Christians from different European backgrounds. The term “Nes Amim” means “banner of nations” it was used in Isaiah 11:10. The theology of “Nes Amim” refers to the need for dialogue between Jews, Christians and all religions.

Nes Ammim 2009 was a successful and memorable experience. It was the first time in history that Jews, Muslims, and Christians from both sides of our borders participated in the convention. We were blessed be chosen as the first Jewish attendees. This year the attending participants came from very diverse backgrounds. There were individuals from Ramala, Ra’anana, Haifa, Jerusalem and even Egypt. There were also participants from Italy, Brazil and Uruguay, who traveled half way around the world to attend the occasion. The convention’s program was similar to last year’s. The three hundred participants were divided into several small groups to enjoy spiritual, artistic, and social activity. There were art classes, drama exhibitions, knitting instruction, meditation, and of course the beloved hiking trails and swimming pools. Nes Ammim hosts a church, a synagogue, and mosque. Many of us attended each other’s weekly prayers.

The three hundred individuals that attended Nes Ammim had their own beliefs, values, goals, and lifestyles. These diversities are a reflection of life in Israel and Palestine. That is the reason that this type of activity should continue in growing numbers, and that the world should be aware of them. I firmly believe that the people of this region can be an example to the rest of the world that the ploughshare can indeed replace the sword.

About the author: Earl Shugerman is a retired American Government public relations specialist,  currently spokesman in Haifa for The Jewish Agency and a writer specializing in interfaith relations. He has worked together with the Catholic and Southern Baptist Movements, the Reformed Jewish Movement and Muslim groups in interfaith activities.


They Think They Can Destroy Israel

November 3, 2010

Dear Friend of Israel,

They’ve tried to destroy Israel through warfare.

They’ve tried to destroy Israel through suicide bombings.

They’ve tried to destroy Israel by firing thousands of rockets into Israeli cities.

Now, Israel’s enemies are launching another attack. And it’s going to succeed, unless we as pro-Israel Americans and Europeans come to Israel’s defense.

Their new plan of attack — to delegitimatize Israel’s very right to exist – and this plan is well underway.

Just look at the Goldstone Report, which seeks to question Israel’s right as a sovereign nation to defend its citizens.

At no time in history, have we seen any other nation be condemned for taking defensive action after having more than 6,300 rockets and mortars launched on its cities.

And Goldstone is just the beginning.

Since 2006 alone, the U.N. Human Rights Council (led by some of the world’s leading human rights violators) has targeted 27 out of 34 censures against Israel.

Throughout these attacks on Israel’s legitimacy, the only country that has consistently stood by Israel’s side has been the United States of America.

Goldstone is a prime example of this. By a vote of 344-36, the U.S. House of Representatives issued a resolution that soundly rejected the findings of the report and called on the administration to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration by the U.N.

This stands in stark contrast to the European Parliament, which just last month (by a vote of 335-387) urged its member states to “monitor actively the implementation of recommendations included in the Goldstone Report.”

It is vital we ensure that consistent U.S. support for Israel continue, which is why I urge you to become a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee today.

For nearly 60 years, AIPAC has worked to make Israel more secure by ensuring American support remains strong.

By joining AIPAC, you help us work year-round with both Democratic and Republican political leaders to enact public policy that strengthens the vital U.S.-Israel relationship.

Please don’t delay. Join AIPAC and help us ensure continued U.S. support for the Jewish state.

U.S. Congress will soon consider the FY 2011 foreign aid budget, which includes $3 billion in security assistance for Israel. Please make a special donation today to ensure AIPAC has the resources to work with Congress in support of this critical security assistance Israel needs to protect her citizens.

Thank You,

David Berger
Editor & Publisher HIRAM7 REVIEW


Forza Repubblica Italiana: Celebration of Italy’s freedom from Nazism by The United States of America

October 27, 2010

“I am constantly amazed by man’s inhumanity to man.” Primo Levi

Despite the fact that Fascist Italy had been one of the key Axis powers, the Allies, especially the Americans, were treated as liberators when they entered Rome. This was in part because of the German occupation. Source: U.S. Army.

Despite the fact that Fascist Italy had been one of the key Axis powers, the Allies, especially the Americans, were treated as liberators when they entered Rome. This was in part because of the German occupation. Source: U.S. Army.

A testimony by Guest Author Marcelo F. Antunes

This celebration is performed by Italians dressed with uniforms of US Soldiers and Marines supported by real Jeep’s and armored cars and it is held every year at September 1st at the Capri Island at the Napoli Gulf.

It happened twice, first the real thing at September 1st, 1996 as can be seen printed in the pictures, then recently a closed friend let me use his slides scanner and I started to digitalize all my slides & negatives taken at all my previous trips around the world.

Hotel - Ana Capri

Hotel – Ana Capri

It seemed to me that I did enter a time capsule as several facts already forgotten came to my mind live again. This is one of those reminds that must be revived again as freedom be it from a physical slavery or mind slaved standpoint is always a quest to be realized.

I came to Ana Capri for a timely vacation with my wife Thereza and we arrived there exactly at August 30th when we were notified by the hotel concierge that next day starting at the night fall an yearly celebration known as “Settembrata” was going to take place and we were invited to participate – we were the only Hotel guests – as this is a celebration that only Ana Capri citizens were allowed to enroll.

We decided to do it and at the fall of the celebration day we received tickets for it and it started by a continuous people lane where all of them received flowers, banners as it started moving with all people singing local songs amidst narrow streets all decorated.

First stop was for a cup of wine and some appetizers – “entrés” – with a round dance after it following through the streets to the next stop for a “primo piatto” also with a glass of wine then … “secondo piatto”, … till we reached a small square where we spotted several US Soldiers – as we firstly imagine – with the American Flag – yet singing in Italian!

We asked our feast fellows about such an incredible fact when we knew that was a celebration of Italy WW II freedom granted by the Allies, specially the American Army, Navy and Air Force. Then following though the streets, squares and gardens, lots of Soldiers, Marines, Jeeps, Armored cars, etc., where met with songs, flowers, speeches and whatsoever might be realized about.

A real big party. Only people that can think, knows how to be grateful for a freedom! I haven’t yet returned to see if the celebration repeats at the very same day!

I hope it could help in support of US Soldiers, Marines and Pilots in the eternal fight against ignorance, slavery and to all democracy enemies as well. There is another essay at my site helping in the understand about our individual and collective war towards a more Just and Righteous World. It can be downloaded here.

Marcelo F. Antunes

Photos: © Marcelo F. Antunes


David Harris 20th Anniversary

October 19, 2010

Dear Friends,

This year, David Harris celebrates his 20th anniversary as American Jewish Committee Executive Director – marking two decades of his passionate and devoted service to the Jewish people, American society and the global community.

As president of AJC, I’m asking you to make a gift to commemorate this milestone. Please click here to contribute.

No single professional has epitomized AJC’s values, vision, activism, humanitarianism and achievement more than David Harris. David has been hailed as one of the Jewish people’s foremost advocates and most distinguished and eloquent spokesmen.

In fact, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon recently said, “David Harris is the consummate Jewish diplomat of our time.”

Looking to the future, David will continue to advocate for the issues most important to the Jewish people, including:

  • Supporting a democratic Israel in its quest for peace and security
  • Speaking out against Iran’s mission to build nuclear weapons
  • Building mutual respect between different religious and ethnic groups, leading to a more tolerant world
  • Moving America towards energy independence – critical for both our national security and our environment
  • Seeking a world in which all people are afforded human rights, human dignity and human freedom

Of course, David’s vision has always relied upon an informed, motivated and active young generation prepared to take on the responsibilities and challenges of Jewish communal leadership. As such, he continues to champion our ACCESS program, which focuses on developing young Jewish leaders.

Your participation will be deeply meaningful and greatly appreciated by David and everyone at AJC. Your special gift will go a long way to support the vital work and global outreach that have become AJC trademarks.

Please click here to contribute to David’s 20th Anniversary celebration today. Please give as generously as you can – any amount would be appreciated.

Sincerely,
Robert Elman
President, American Jewish Committee (AJC)


The Legacy of Niccolò Machiavelli: The Common Sense in Politics

October 15, 2010

„The first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.“ Niccolò Machiavelli

„Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance.” Hannah Arendt

Historians Hannah Holborn Gray, Roger D. Masters, Mark Musa, Robert Hariman, Henry Kissinger, Gary Hart and Donald Kagan recalled Niccolò Machiavelli, the founder of modern politics.

Historian Quentin Skinner on Machiavelli’s The Prince (1513)


Clinton Global Initiative highlights, a night in Brooklyn, and more

October 1, 2010

Last week, heads of state, business leaders, and nonprofit executives gathered in New York City for the sixth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

I started CGI after going to thousands of meetings over my career where people talked about issues but did little to solve them. We ask all CGI members to make a commitment to take action, and this year’s attendees made nearly 300 new commitments valued at $6 billion. You can view highlights of the meeting here, and then take our quiz to see how these commitments, along with your support, are improving lives around the world.

Earlier this month, we hosted our most recent Millennium Network Event – this time in Brooklyn, New York – to engage the next generation of philanthropists. This wonderful evening included performances from Chaka Khan and Talib Kweli.

Sign up today to become a part of this growing network.

Thank you for your support.

Bill Clinton


Four European Oil Firms Stop Investing in Iran

October 1, 2010

The United States announced that four of Europe’s five biggest oil companies (Total, Shell, Statoil and Eni) would end their energy investments in Iran, an attempt to bolster the Obama administration’s efforts to pressure Iran into entering negotiations over its nuclear program.

Lloyd’s of London also announced it would not insure petroleum shipments going into Iran.

A chart of the major "big oil" companies (Author: Boereck, Hamburg)

A chart of the major "big oil" companies (Author: Boereck, Hamburg)

“The goal here is not to impose sanctions for sanctions’ sake but to end companies from doing business with Iran,” Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg said.

Read full story.


Stop The Iranian Threat!

September 21, 2010

 

Dear Friend of Israel,

U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010 on June 24, by a vote of (408-8-1) in the House and (99-0) in the Senate.

This historic legislation is the toughest Iran sanctions bill ever to emerge from Congress.

To complement this legislation, members of the House of Representatives have now introduced The Iran Transparency and Accountability Act (ITA) of 2010 (H.R. 5833).

This new legislation would require companies to declare publicly sanctionable investments in Iran in their quarterly and annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The legislation is the next step to ensuring that there is sustained accountability in the implementation of Iran sanctions and the recently passed (CISADA).

Please email your House member today and urge them to co-sponsor the Iran Transparency and Accountability Act (ITA).

Now is the moment to demonstrate leadership as a member of AIPAC, the only organization working to ensure critical American support for Israel in these uncertain times.

Thank You,

Jonathan E. Missner
Director of National Affairs and Development


Die “Endlösung der Judenfrage” in Frankreich: Razzia der Pariser Winter-Radrennbahn (1942)

July 17, 2010

Daß die Juden, wenn sie wollten – oder, wenn man sie dazu zwänge, wie es die Antisemiten zu wollen scheinen –, jetzt schon das Übergewicht, ja ganz wörtlich die Herrschaft über Europa haben könnten, steht fest; daß sie nicht darauf hinarbeiten und Pläne machen, ebenfalls. Einstweilen wollen und wünschen sie vielmehr, sogar mit einiger Zudringlichkeit, in Europa, von Europa ein- und aufgesaugt zu werden, sie dürsten darnach, endlich irgendwo fest, erlaubt, geachtet zu sein und dem Nomadenleben, dem ‘ewigen Juden’ ein Ziel zu setzen –; und man sollte diesen Zug und Drang wohl beachten und ihm entgegenkommen. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Als Rafle du Vélodrome d’Hiver (frz. Razzia der Winter-Radrennbahn) wird die am 16. und 17. Juli 1942 in Paris durchgeführte Massenfestnahme durch die französische Polizei (auf Anordnung des Generalsekretärs der Polizei des Vichy-Regimes René Bousquet - der nach dem Krieg eine steile Karriere machte und leider 1993 erschossen wurde, bevor man ihn den Prozess machen konnte) und darauf folgende Deportation von 13.000 französischen Juden, darunter über 4.000 Kinder, in die Gaskammern nach Auschwitz bezeichnet.

Die aktive Beteiligung der französischen Vichy-Regierung sowie französischer Polizeibeamter – ohne ausdrücklichen Befehl der nationalsozialistischen Besatzungsmacht – an diesem Verbrechen war jahrzehntelang ein Tabu in Frankreich.

Am 16. Juli 1995 entschuldigte sich der französische Staatspräsident Jacques Chirac öffentlich im Namen der französischen Republik

Am 16. Juli 1995 entschuldigte sich Staatspräsident Jacques Chirac öffentlich im Namen der französischen Republik.

 “Von diesem Moment an konnte man beginnen, echte Fragen zu stellen, wurde den Opfern der Opfer-Status zuerkannt. Erst dann konnte die Arbeit der Erinnerung, der historischen Auseinandersetzung und die Trauerarbeit der jüdischen Familien wirklich beginnen. Ich nenne das eine „Befriedung“. Denn seit der Erklärung des Staatspräsidenten Jacques Chirac fühlen sich viele Juden mit ihrer Geschichte versöhnt, mit der Geschichte ihres Landes, des Landes, in dem sie leben.”, bemerkte Jacques Fredj, Direktor des Mémorial de la Shoah, ein Gedenk-, Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum zur Geschichte des Holocaust.

Jacques Chirac & Simone Veil vor der Mauer der Namen in Paris

Jacques Chirac mit der französischen Politikerin, einstigen Präsidentin des Europäischen Parlamentes und Auschwitz-Überlebende Simone Veil vor dem Pariser Denkmal Mur des Noms (Mauer der Namen)

***

Am 16. Juli 1995, hielt der französische Staatspräsident Jacques Chirac eine sehr bewegende Rede, in der er auf die Verstrickungen des französischen Staates in dieses Verbrechen einging.

Rede des französischen Staatspräsidenten Jacques Chirac

Monsieur le Maire,

Monsieur le Président,

Monsieur l’Ambassadeur,

Monsieur le Grand Rabbin,

Mesdames, Messieurs,

Il est, dans la vie d’une nation, des moments qui blessent la mémoire, et l’idée que l’on se fait de son pays.

Ces moments, il est difficile de les évoquer, parce que l’on ne sait pas toujours trouver les mots justes pour rappeler l’horreur, pour dire le chagrin de celles et ceux qui ont vécu la tragédie. Celles et ceux qui sont marqués à jamais dans leur âme et dans leur chair par le souvenir de ces journées de larmes et de honte.

Il est difficile de les évoquer, aussi, parce que ces heures noires souillent à jamais notre histoire, et sont une injure à notre passé et à nos traditions. Oui, la folie criminelle de l’occupant a été secondée par des Français, par l’Etat français.

Il y a cinquante-trois ans, le 16 juillet 1942, 450 policiers et gendarmes français, sous l’autorité de leurs chefs, répondaient aux exigences des nazis.

Ce jour-là, dans la capitale et en région parisienne, près de dix mille hommes, femmes et enfants juifs furent arrêtés à leur domicile, au petit matin, et rassemblés dans les commissariats de police.

On verra des scènes atroces: les familles déchirées, les mères séparées de leurs enfants, les vieillards – dont certains, anciens combattants de la Grande Guerre, avaient versé leur sang pour la France – jetés sans ménagement dans les bus parisiens et les fourgons de la Préfecture de Police.

On verra, aussi, des policiers fermer les yeux, permettant ainsi quelques évasions.

Pour toutes ces personnes arrêtées, commence alors le long et douloureux voyage vers l’enfer. Combien d’entre-elles ne reverront jamais leur foyer? Et combien, à cet instant, se sont senties trahies? Quelle a été leur détresse?

La France, patrie des Lumières et des Droits de l’Homme, terre d’accueil et d’asile, la France, ce jour-là, accomplissait l’irréparable. Manquant à sa parole, elle livrait ses protégés à leurs bourreaux.

Conduites au Vélodrome d’hiver, les victimes devaient attendre plusieurs jours, dans les conditions terribles que l’on sait, d’être dirigées sur l’un des camps de transit – Pithiviers ou Beaune-la-Rolande – ouverts par les autorités de Vichy.

L’horreur, pourtant, ne faisait que commencer.

Suivront d’autres rafles, d’autres arrestations. A Paris et en province. Soixante-quatorze trains partiront vers Auschwitz. Soixante-seize mille déportés juifs de France n’en reviendront pas.

Nous conservons à leur égard une dette imprescriptible.

La Thora fait à chaque juif devoir de se souvenir. Une phrase revient toujours qui dit: “N’oublie jamais que tu as été un étranger et un esclave en terre de Pharaon”.

Cinquante ans après, fidèle à sa loi, mais sans esprit de haine ou de vengeance, la Communauté juive se souvient, et toute la France avec elle. Pour que vivent les six millions de martyrs de la Shoah. Pour que de telles atrocités ne se reproduisent jamais plus. Pour que le sang de l’holocauste devienne, selon le mot de Samuel Pisar, le “sang de l’espoir”.

Quand souffle l’esprit de haine, avivé ici par les intégrismes, alimenté là par la peur et l’exclusion. Quand à nos portes, ici même, certains groupuscules, certaines publications, certains enseignements, certains partis politiques se révèlent porteurs, de manière plus ou moins ouverte, d’une idéologie raciste et antisémite, alors cet esprit de vigilance qui vous anime, qui nous anime, doit se manifester avec plus de force que jamais.

En la matière, rien n’est insignifiant, rien n’est banal, rien n’est dissociable. Les crimes racistes, la défense de thèses révisionnistes, les provocations en tout genre – les petites phrases, les bons mots – puisent aux mêmes sources.

Transmettre la mémoire du peuple juif, des souffrances et des camps. Témoigner encore et encore. Reconnaître les fautes du passé, et les fautes commises par l’Etat. Ne rien occulter des heures sombres de notre Histoire, c’est tout simplement défendre une idée de l’Homme, de sa liberté et de sa dignité. C’est lutter contre les forces obscures, sans cesse à l’oeuvre.

Cet incessant combat est le mien autant qu’il est le vôtre.

Les plus jeunes d’entre nous, j’en suis heureux, sont sensibles à tout ce qui se rapporte à la Shoah. Ils veulent savoir. Et avec eux, désormais, de plus en plus de Français décidés à regarder bien en face leur passé.

La France, nous le savons tous, n’est nullement un pays antisémite.

En cet instant de recueillement et de souvenir, je veux faire le choix de l’espoir.

Je veux me souvenir que cet été 1942, qui révèle le vrai visage de la “collaboration”, dont le caractère raciste, après les lois anti-juives de 1940, ne fait plus de doute, sera, pour beaucoup de nos compatriotes, celui du sursaut, le point de départ d’un vaste mouvement de résistance.

Je veux me souvenir de toutes les familles juives traquées, soustraites aux recherches impitoyables de l’occupant et de la milice, par l’action héroïque et fraternelle de nombreuses familles françaises.

J’aime à penser qu’un mois plus tôt, à Bir Hakeim, les Français libres de Koenig avaient héroïquement tenu, deux semaines durant, face aux divisions allemandes et italiennes.

Certes, il y a les erreurs commises, il y a les fautes, il y a une faute collective. Mais il y a aussi la France, une certaine idée de la France, droite, généreuse, fidèle à ses traditions, à son génie. Cette France n’a jamais été à Vichy. Elle n’est plus, et depuis longtemps, à Paris. Elle est dans les sables libyens et partout où se battent des Français libres. Elle est à Londres, incarnée par le Général de Gaulle. Elle est présente, une et indivisible, dans le coeur de ces Français, ces “Justes parmi les nations” qui, au plus noir de la tourmente, en sauvant au péril de leur vie, comme l’écrit Serge Klarsfeld, les trois-quarts de la communauté juive résidant en France, ont donné vie à ce qu’elle a de meilleur. Les valeurs humanistes, les valeurs de liberté, de justice, de tolérance qui fondent l’identité française et nous obligent pour l’avenir.

Ces valeurs, celles qui fondent nos démocraties, sont aujourd’hui bafouées en Europe même, sous nos yeux, par les adeptes de la “purification ethnique”. Sachons tirer les leçons de l’Histoire. N’acceptons pas d’être les témoins passifs, ou les complices, de l’inacceptable.

C’est le sens de l’appel que j’ai lancé à nos principaux partenaires, à Londres, à Washington, à Bonn. Si nous le voulons, ensemble nous pouvons donner un coup d’arrêt à une entreprise qui détruit nos valeurs et qui, de proche en proche risque de menacer l’Europe tout entière.


Independence Day: July 4, 1776

July 4, 2010

John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the Declaration in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

         Live free or Die! The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, announcing the colonies‘ separation from the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Constitution provides the legal and governmental framework for the United States of America, with its assertion “all Men are created equal”.

The political philosophy of the Declaration with its ideals of individual liberty had been expressed by English philosopher John Locke. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty.

Here, in unforgettable words, Thomas Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people.


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence:

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Massachusetts: John Hancock

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple

Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire: Matthew Thornton


D-Day – June 6, 1944: The Meaning of the Supreme Sacrifice of Heroes and Guardians of Freedom

June 6, 2010

dday flags D-Day Message to the troops from Dwight D. Eisenhower

Let Our Hearts Be Stout – Roosevelt D-Day Prayer

My Fellow Americans,

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest – until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home – fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them – help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too – strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment – let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace – a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.

U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – June 6, 1944


The Making of Barack Obama: Honolulu, Harvard, and Hyde Park

May 1, 2010

Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great. (Niccolo Machiavelli)

David Remnick,   editor of The New Yorker, delivers with The Bridge fresh insights about Barack Obama’s personal and political odyssey – particularly when it comes to understanding the degree to which Obama is a product of New England’s commitment to social and global reform.

A Book Review by Walter Russell Mead 

Barack Obama’s appeal has always been something of a paradox. On the one hand, Obama’s election as the United States‘ first African American president can be seen as a triumph for “identity politics” and a blow to the near hammerlock that white Protestant males have had on the presidency since George Washington.

On the other hand, it moves the country closer to an era of nonracial or postracial politics, in which racial identity will matter less and less.

Obama is a clear break from past generations of black politicians. In the parlance of the civil rights movement, he is a member of “the Joshua generation” — a term drawn from the Bible that refers to the generation of Jews who did not remember the Exodus but lived to enter the Promised Land. And he has embraced a very different political style from those of other black politicians, such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. With a white mother and a Kenyan father who lived in the United States only briefly, Obama had little personal connection to the forces and history that shape African American identity. Growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia, two places where black-white relations were a marginal and distant force, young Barry Obama’s life was touched only tangentially by race. From this start, Obama emerged as the most commanding figure in African American politics ever and was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win a majority of the popular vote since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Who is Obama? What does he really believe? How has his quest to find and understand his place in American life shaped him and his vision for the United States? These are the questions that David Remnick, the author of Lenin’s Tomb and the editor of The New Yorker, sets out to investigate in The Bridge, an intelligent and searching biography of Obama. Although he covers ground that has already been examined by other writers (most notably, Obama himself), Remnick nevertheless manages to frame important questions about the current occupant of the Oval Office. The Bridge is a significant accomplishment and a compelling read. At its best, it illuminates some very dark corners.

The book is not always at its best. Most readers will feel that Remnick spends entirely too much time on detailed accounts of the ultimately irrelevant candidates who tried and failed to stop Obama’s march to the Senate in 2004. Instead, Remnick should have put his intelligence to work on the mostly white world of liberal Hyde Park activism, which had a profound effect on Obama during his years in Chicago. This is a regrettable oversight, since, as Remnick’s narrative makes clear, white (and often Jewish) friends and associates formed a critical part of Obama’s network. Remnick has a gift for laying bare the cultural and intellectual forces at work in a person or a milieu; had he turned that searchlight on Hyde Park, he would have produced a much richer account of the president’s intellectual and political journey.

When it comes to the world of black Chicago, Remnick gets closer to the story. His portrait of Representative Bobby Rush, the former Black Panther who defeated Obama in a congressional primary, is particularly sharp; his take on Jeremiah Wright, the spellbinding preacher who built the church in which Obama found his faith, although good, leaves readers wanting more. The book’s dominant metaphor is a bridge — Remnick compares Obama’s role in society to the bridge in Selma, Alabama, that was the site of one of the most significant struggles of the civil rights movement — and to some degree, the image closes as many doors as it opens. The image is a compelling one, but African American politics, religion, and culture are about much more than civil rights. By scanting this complexity, Remnick leaves readers with a less than totally satisfying depiction of Obama’s encounter with the world of black Chicago.

THE PRESIDENT FROM NEW ENGLAND

Nevertheless, Remnick delivers some fresh insights about the president’s personal and political odyssey that open up new perspectives on American society as a whole — particularly when it comes to understanding the degree to which Obama is a product of New England’s commitment to social and global reform. The Bostonian vision of the United States as “a city on a hill,” whose government is the moral agent of a society of good people determined to suppress vice and establish virtue, has fueled some of the country’s most important and lasting social movements, and it is this tradition that seems to have shaped Obama most profoundly.

The high school that Obama attended in Hawaii, the elite Punahou School, was founded in 1841 to educate the children of the New England missionaries who led the kingdom of Hawaii into both Christianity and the United States. In 1851, it was opened up to students from all racial and religious backgrounds, and today, like any good New England boarding school, it attempts to infuse its students with an ethic of service, along with solid academic skills. This Exeter of the Pacific did more than give Obama the academic skills he would need at Columbia and Harvard Law School; socially and culturally, it helped prepare him for both the ideas and the people among whom his lot was to be cast.

At its best, the tradition of New England reform, with its moral earnestness and its willingness to call on the full powers of a strong state, is a nonracial or postracial vision. Punahou’s 1851 decision to open its doors to nonwhite and non-Christian students reflected more than the missionary ambitions of its founders; it represented the New England faith in the essential equality, and even similarity, of all people under the skin.

That same faith led more modern representatives of the New England spirit to promote the admission of increasing numbers of nonelite and nonwhite students to schools like Punahou and Harvard Law. But the goal of these powerful establishment reformers was less the celebration of diversity than its abolition. That is, just as the missionaries believed that given Christian values and education, the Sandwich Islanders would build their own version of a New England commonwealth, so modern reformers have believed that giving African Americans, Roman Catholics, and other formerly marginalized Americans greater access to better education would ultimately lead them to embrace New England’s core values.

This seems to have worked in Obama’s case. Just as President John F. Kennedy, the Harvard-educated scion of Boston Irish-ward politicians, out-WASPed the WASPs by placing himself firmly in the line of high New England moral and political leadership, so Obama has used his eloquence and conviction to emerge as the leading representative of this old and deeply American political tradition. Yet the perception among some Chicagoans that if pressed, Obama would say, like the narrator of the famous William Blake poem, “I am black, but O, my soul is white!” nearly ended his political career in 2000, when Rush humiliated him in a congressional race.

For Obama to emerge as a postracial candidate, he first had to become racial; he had to find a way to become culturally black. The quest to connect with African American history, culture, and values shaped much of his personal and political activity from adolescence through 2006. Remnick does a better job with this aspect of Obama’s development than many writers because he grounds much of his story in Obama’s struggle to find his place in black America. And for a white writer, he gives an unusually detailed and nuanced portrait of the intellectual and political world in which Obama had to find his way.

More would have been better. In particular, readers would have benefited from a fuller and richer treatment of Wright. He represents the road that Obama ultimately chose not to take: Wright’s Afrocentric theology and impassioned black nationalist rhetoric offered a competing vision with which Obama had to come to terms to find his place in black Chicago — but that could never adequately express either the hopes or the vision that Obama brought with him from Hawaii and Harvard. Forced to choose between the spirit and legacy of New England reform as embodied in the likes of Oliver Wendell Holmes and McGeorge Bundy on the one hand and the Afrocentric vision of Wright on the other, Obama stands with Massachusetts every time.

BLACK LIKE HIM

The path Obama had to navigate as he built an identity and found friends and allies within the world of Chicago’s African American politics was a winding one. Remnick moves rather too quickly along it, but he does help readers appreciate the magnitude and difficulty of Obama’s progress. Although the circumstances of Obama’s need to connect his cosmopolitan upbringing and education with the hopes and fears of a particular community of voters were unique, the task is common. The U.S. educational system is largely deracinating: it aims to do more than take the boy out of Iowa; it wants to take the Iowa out of the boy. For those graduates who seek a career in electoral politics, the process must be reversed.

Returning to Arkansas after his years as a Rhodes scholar and Yale law student, Bill Clinton, the great chameleon of modern American political history, had to reconnect with an American vernacular. George W. Bush had to navigate the transition from Andover, Yale, and Harvard Business School back to the pork rinds of Texas. The declining political fortunes of the Kennedy dynasty seem connected to the way that each succeeding generation has been more Harvard and less South Boston; by contrast, each generation of the Bush clan has moved further away from its blue-blooded, bluenosed Connecticut roots toward a more total immersion in rising American subcultures.

Given the unique and uniquely charged history of black America, African American politicians face tougher challenges than their white, Latino, and Asian peers. The loyalties are deeper, the suspicions on all sides greater, the questions to be addressed more explosive. Obama’s success in finding a path through these obstacles and developing a political stance and style that has attracted both black and white voters to his side reveals a powerful intellect linked to a capacity for empathy and a receptiveness to others that recalls both Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

Reflecting on Obama’s path from Harvard Law to the South Side of Chicago also helps one understand the limits of his political appeal. Learning to integrate his New England value system into a public persona that could reach Chicago’s black voters gave Obama a potent and even mythic political appeal, but it also left him with a weak suit: the folks out in the hills clinging to their God and their guns. For many Americans, the New England vision of a strong state acting as the enforcer of a common moral purpose has always been something to resist. Jeffersonian and Jacksonian radicals fought to abolish the state establishment of religion in Connecticut and Massachusetts, the South fought the abolitionists and then the Freedmen’s Bureau during Reconstruction, the white working-class South and North united in defiance of Prohibition, and so on.

Obama’s effect on this populist tradition is like that of a red flag on a bull. As a New England reformer building a larger, more intrusive state, and as the most prominent beneficiary of New England’s determination to broaden access to its most elite institutions, Obama represents forces that many populists instinctively oppose. At the same time, nothing in Honolulu or Cambridge or Chicago taught Obama what Clinton learned in Arkansas: how to reach out to these people and to know what, and what not, to say to them. The economic crisis of 2008 and the country’s unhappiness with the Bush administration gave Obama an opportunity to be heard by populist voters; since his inauguration, they have shown signs of retreating to their former loyalties and ideas. Obama’s hopes for reelection in 2012 may turn on his ability to bridge yet another divide in America’s soul and to reach out to a constituency that so far has proved resistant to his charms.

THE WORLD BEYOND

Students of foreign policy will be bemused and somewhat alarmed by the near-total absence of evidence in Remnick’s book that Obama ever showed any interest in foreign policy before running for president. There is a casual mention of the human rights scholar Samantha Power as an adviser to and influence on Obama, and there are narrative descriptions of Obama’s sojourns abroad with his mother and a fascinating account of his father’s troubled career in Kenya. But to judge from this book, Obama spent little time dealing with foreign policy until he failed to get the Senate committee assignment he really wanted and was forced to make the best of an appointment to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. While traveling with Senator John Kerry and others in 2005, Obama saw the poor security surrounding Russian nuclear materials and was seized by the importance of getting the world’s nuclear material under better control. This is a worthwhile idea, and it bore fruit at the recent Nuclear Security Summit, but one looks in The Bridge in vain for more clues to the future of U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration.

It seems reasonable to infer that Obama’s foreign policy instincts, like his domestic policy ideas, are rooted in the New England tradition that blends a form of moralism tempered by pragmatism, a faith in strong government, and a commitment to leading by example. One could look to John Quincy Adams for an example of the foreign policy ideas to which Obama might aspire. Like Adams, Obama believes in American power and in an American destiny to do well by doing good; yet also like Adams, he prefers to hold power in reserve when he can and is conscious of the United States’ capacity to err. Whether he can succeed in foreign policy as well as Adams did remains to be seen; Adams was immersed in diplomacy all his life, whereas Obama is still finding his way.

The Bridge is a biography of a life still being shaped; everyone, including Obama, will know much more about who he is and what really counts to him once his presidency has drawn to a close. This makes for a book that in some ways is frustratingly open ended and sometimes feels unfinished. Nevertheless, it accomplishes the one thing that it needed to do: it encourages readers to ask the right questions about Obama.

Reprinted with kindly permission of The Council on Foreign Relations.


Climategate Scandal

April 15, 2010

An independent academic panel found that the climate researchers at University of East Anglia targeted in the “climategate” scandal did not commit deliberate scientific malpractice, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Read full story.


Poland’s Tragedy is Our Tragedy

April 12, 2010

An op-ed by David Harris
Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 12, 2010

When the plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and dozens of other officials crashed in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk, Russia on Saturday, this immense disaster was also a personal tragedy.

I lost friends in the crash that killed key leaders from the Polish government, economy, and military.

These friends represented democratic Poland, the country that emerged after a decade of struggle led by Solidarity and KOR activists. And of all places for Polish leaders to meet their maker, why did it have to be Katyn, Poles ask, the site of the 1940 Soviet massacre of more than 20,000 Polish officers?

Let me share brief recollections of three of them.

I first met Lech Kaczynski when he was Warsaw’s mayor. He was eager for the renewal of Jewish life in Poland. He felt a kinship to Jews, whom he saw as an integral part of Poland’s fabric. He said it was impossible to understand Poland without comprehending the Jewish role in its life. That’s why he was supportive of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and why he was instrumental in launching it.

I later met him many times as president, most recently in February. A man of passion and principle, he seldom minced words. He knew where he stood and he didn’t try to mask his views from others.

President Kaczynski was a friend of the United States. He wasn’t always so certain, however, that the friendship was reciprocated. Indeed, he feared that at times Poland’s loyalty was taken for granted. But he saw the United States as the only real guarantor of global security — if, he said, Washington wouldn’t succumb to Russia’s siren song or Europe’s equivocation.

The president was a friend of Israel. He liked and understood it. He instinctively grasped its security predicaments because he could personally relate to a vulnerable country in a tough neighborhood. And he chastised those quick to judge Israel in order to curry favor with others, again seeing a parallel with Poland, whose own interests were sacrificed more than once on the altar of global power politics.

Rejecting Iran’s nuclear ambitions was a no-brainer for President Kaczynski. Like many Poles, he and his family had witnessed man’s capacity for evil. In our meetings, he’d get right to the point: Isn’t it obvious what Iran is doing? Iran’s leaders can’t be trusted with a bomb. The world needs to get tougher with Tehran.

Mariusz Handzlik was another friend on the plane. A diplomat whom I first met in Washington years ago, he was serving as undersecretary of state in the office of Poland’s president.

Mariusz and I shared a deep admiration for Jan Karski, the Polish wartime hero who later joined the faculty of Georgetown University. While serving in the United States, Mariusz befriended Karski, becoming his regular chess partner. They were playing chess when Karski suddenly felt ill and died shortly afterward. Together, Mariusz and I cried for this man who, at repeated risk to his own life, had tried to alert a largely deaf world to the Nazi’s Final Solution.

And when Mariusz was assigned to the Polish Mission to the United Nations, he proudly told me that now he would be in a position, together with his colleagues, to help Israel in the world body. He wanted the Israelis to know they had friends at the United Nations, which largely was seen as hostile territory for Israel.

Andrzej Przewoźnik was secretary-general of the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites.

I first met him when the Polish government and the American Jewish Committee joined together to demarcate, protect, and memorialize the site of the Nazi death camp in Belzec, located in southeastern Poland. In less than a year, more than 500,000 Jews were killed in an area barely the size of a few football fields. Only two Jews survived.

In June 2004, after years of planning and construction, the site was inaugurated. As the late Miles Lerman said at that solemn ceremony, “No place of martyrdom anywhere is today as well protected and memorialized as Belzec.”

That could not have occurred without Andrzej’s pivotal role. He helped make it happen, overcoming the multiple hurdles along the way. By doing so, he ensured that what took place at Belzec, long neglected by the Communists, would never be forgotten.

May the memories of Lech Kaczynski, Mariusz Handzlik, Andrzej Przewoźnik — and their fellow passengers — forever be for a blessing, as those of us privileged to have known them were ourselves blessed.


Iran und die Grünen: “Joschkas Schatten”

April 12, 2010

Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen,
 
mit folgenden Worten kündigte Spiegel Online Kultur meinen Aufsatz über die grüne Iranpolitik an, den das Kulturmagazin perlentaucher.de heute veröffentlichte:
 
“Vor zehn Jahren fand auf Initiative der Grünen und der Böll-Stiftung die zu trauriger Berühmtheit gelangte Iran-Konferenz statt, die der Stärkung von Reformkräften im Regime dienen sollte. Diese wurden  nach ihrer Heimkehr festgenommen und zum Teil für Jahre ins Gefängnis gesteckt  und gefoltert.
Daran erinnert im Perlentaucher Matthias Küntzel. Joschka Fischer änderte nach diesem Debakel seine konziliante Haltung gegenüber dem Regime nicht um ein Iota und ließ es bei einer Einbestellung des Botschafters bewenden: “Außenminister  Fischer hielt sich ‘mit öffentlicher Kritik an den Urteilen zurück, um  den seit dem vergangenen Jahr verbesserten Beziehungen zu Iran nicht zu  schaden.’…

Mehr noch:

Das rot-grüne Regierungsbündnis legte Bundestagspräsident Wolfgang Thierse nahe, auf seine für Februar 2001 angesetzte  Reise nach Iran nicht zu verzichten. In Teheran angekommen, äußerte sich Thierse  über die Terrorurteile ‘zurückhaltend’. Mit umso mehr Verve kündigte er die Intensivierung der ‘politischen und wirtschaftlichen Kontakte mit Iran’ an.  Er werde sich insbesondere ‘dafür einsetzen, dass noch in diesem Jahr ein neues deutsch-iranisches Kulturabkommen geschlossen werde.’”
 
Perlentaucher.de veröffentlichte den Beitrag unter dem Titel “Von  der grünen Spielwiese in die Hölle”. Sie finden ihn hier.
 
Er ist jetzt unter dem Titel “Joschkas Schatten: Die Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung übergeht den 10. Jahrestag ihrer Iran-Konferenz”  auch auf meiner Homepage zu finden.
 
Noch ein Hinweis in eigener Sache:
 
Am Mittwoch, den 14. April 2010 werde ich mein Buchs über “Die Deutschen und der Iran” erstmals in Berlin präsentieren. An dem Podiumsgespräch  werden sich Dr. Oliver Thränert von der Stiftung  Wissenschaft und Politik sowie Axel Feuerherdt von Iran Free  Now beteiligen. Lale Süsskind, die Vorsitzenden der  Jüdischen Gemeinde in Berlin und Fathiyeh  Naghibzadeh von Stop the Bomb haben Grußworte angekündigt.

Veranstalter sind die Jüdische Gemeinde Berlin sowie die Kampagne Stop the Bomb. Ort: Centrum Judaicum, Oranienburgerstr.  28-30, Beginn um 18 Uhr.
 
Dr.Matthias Küntzel

Matthias Küntzel, geboren 1955, ist Politikwissenschaftler und Publizist. Von 1984 bis 1988 war Matthias Küntzel Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter der Bundestagsfraktion “Die Grünen”. 1991 promovierte er im Fachbereich Internationale Beziehungen der Universität Hamburg über die Atomwaffenpolitik der BRD. Seine Themenschwerpunkte sind Antisemitismus, islamischer Antisemitismus, die Beziehung zwischen Islamismus und Nationalsozialismus, der Iran sowie die deutsche und europäische Nahostpolitik. 2002 veröffentlichte er das Werk ‚Djihad und Judenhass, Über den neuen antijüdischen Krieg‘. Die englische Ausgabe wurde 2007 mit dem Grand Prize des London Book Festivals sowie 2008 mit der Goldmedaille des amerikanischen Independent Publisher Book Award für den Bereich Religion ausgezeichnet. 2009 erschien sein Buch „Die Deutschen und der Iran. Geschichte und Gegenwart einer verhängnisvollen Freundschaft“. Neben seiner publizistischen Tätigkeit forscht Matthias Küntzel an der Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


Report records shocking rise of violent anti-Semitism in western Europe in 2009

April 12, 2010

A new survey by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism in Tel Aviv has revealed a strong surge in violent anti-Semitism in 2009, which in western Europe has now reached the highest level in decades.

The number of recorded violent incidents against Jews, or Jewish sites, totaled 1,129 last year, compared to 559 in 2008 – a rise of 102 percent. In addition, there were “many more hundreds of threats, insults, graffiti signs and slogans and demonstrations featuring virulently anti-Semitic content… sometimes resulting in violence,” according to the report.

“The year … was the worst since monitoring of anti-Semitic manifestations began two decades ago, in terms of both major anti-Semitic violence and the hostile atmosphere generated worldwide by the mass demonstrations and verbal and visual expressions against Israel and the Jews,” the study states.

Dina Porat, the director of the Stephen Roth Institute, told journalists at a press conference that anti-Semitism was directly linked to anti-Zionism. “Political goals are imbued with anti-Jewish sentiment and equations of Jews to Nazis,” she said. Her study was published on the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day Yom HaShoah.

In Britain, 374 manifestations of violence against Jews were recorded in 2009, compared to 112 in 2008. France – which has the largest Jewish community in Europe – reported 195 violent attacks against Jews, compared to 50 in 2008. Canada saw 130 incidents in 2009, compared to 13 in 2008, and the United States 116 compared to 98. The study records 566 incidents of vandalism targeting Jewish property worldwide in 2009, constituting 49 percent of all incidents. Germany, Russia and Ukraine were not as badly affected by the rise, and may even have seen a decrease in incidents for 2009, the report found.

Forty-one incidents were armed assaults against Jews because of their religion. Thirty-four arson attacks were recorded. Threats of violence against Jews and Jewish institutions accounted for 29 percent of all incidents.

The report attributes the surge in anti-Semitic acts in large parts to the 2009 Gaza war. However, Professor Robert Wistrich of Hebrew University in Jerusalem was quoted as saying by ‘Voice of America’ that “All kinds of new pretexts can serve to ignite anti-Semitism, particularly through anti-Israel feeling, through anti-Zionism; and above all it is Israel that has become the obsession of the anti-Semites.”

Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, which co-sponsored the report, criticized some Jewish communities for “remaining silent” on anti-Semitism, but praised French and British Jewish leaders for speaking out forcefully against anti-Semitism. Kantor also said that the rise in anti-Jewish sentiment in Western Europe was a “new phenomenon financed and organized by pro-Islamic, pro-terrorist organizations and states.”

Porat said: “We had the feeling, which was corroborated by the facts, that the radical left – sometimes together with Jews and former Israelis, this is very disturbing – worked together with the radical Muslim leadership, using anti-Semitism and the Holocaust as political tools, to make Israel as a Jewish state a political target.”

Read full story.


Iran: Prospects for Regime Change

April 1, 2010

As the Obama administration attempts to garner international support for strengthened sanctions against Iran, Iran continues to make progress in its nuclear program. Despite increased international attention, Iran continues to pose perhaps the greatest threat to peace of any country in the world.

The ongoing turmoil in Iran almost nine months after 2009′s fraudulent presidential election raises questions about the continued viability of the Iranian regime.

With the United States exploring sanctions at the United Nations and key members of Congress calling for increased support to the Iranian opposition, the Foreign Policy Initiative will host a half-day conference on “Iran: Prospects for Regime Change,” on Tuesday, April 6th.  Leading Iran experts will examine the state of the opposition and discuss U.S. policy options.

With a growing consensus in Washington that the actions of the Iranian regime make a negotiated settlement to the Iranian nuclear crisis unlikely, this timely conference will explore the prospects for change in Iran from within and what the United States should be doing to support Iran’s democrats and resolve the Iranian nuclear question once and for all.

Also, the ability of the regime to clamp down on the Green Movement in recent months, especially its efforts on February 11, have caused some outside observers to argue that Iran’s opposition movement has fizzled out roughly nine months after the election that brought thousands of protesters into the streets.  In the wake of last month’s events, many questions have been raised regarding the ability of the opposition to succeed against the regime’s brutal tactics.

***

The Foreign Policy Initiative
Iran: Prospects for Regime Change

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
(Rescheduled from February 11, 2010)
8:30AM – 12:00PM
1777 F Street NW

8:30 – 9:00        Registration and Breakfast
9:00 – 10:15      State of the Green Movement

Panelists: 
Reuel Gerecht, Foundation for Defense of Democracies 
Mehdi Khalaji, Washington Institute for Near East Policy 
Mohsen Sazegara, Research Institute for Contemporary Iran

Moderator: 
William Kristol, The Weekly Standard and The Foreign Policy Initiative

10:15 – 10:30     Break

10:30 – 12:00     U.S. Policy Options

Panelists:     
Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations 
Danielle Pletka, The American Enterprise Institute 
Ray Takeyh, Council on Foreign Relations

Moderator: 
Robert Kagan, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and  The Foreign Policy Initiative

For more information or to arrange an interview with Jamie Fly, head of the Foreign Policy Initiative, please contact MNS Publicity:

Sandy Schulz, (202) 244-1460 or sandy@mnspublicity.com


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