News from Europe and Australia

July 09, 2003

CONTENTS

1. Australia – Free speech groups attack Jews for trying to stop Holocaust denier speak at Melbourne Film Festival.
2. Germany – Arab group admits plan to blow up Daniel Libeskind's Berlin Jewish Museum, and other Jewish buildings. Also planned to poison food to kill Jews.
3. Norway – Moves to arrest Ariel Sharon for "war crimes" when he visits on 16 July.
4. Rotterdam – World lawmakers told disaffection with Israeli policies is being used as a camouflage for anti-Semitism.
5. France – Court (finally) to open probe on Netanya Passover bombing which killed French citizen.
6. France – Publisher faces prison for publishing material denying Holocaust, Anne Frank's Diary.
7. France – Outrage after government restores Nazi Maurice Papon's pension.
8. France – Protests to French Municipality over refusal to rename High School named after Nazi Collaborator Florent Schmitt.
9. Germany – After Berlusconi remarks, Germans ask: When will Nazi comparisons ever end?
10. Ireland – Foreign Minister Brian Cowen prefers to meet Arafat than Sharon.


“AN OUTRAGEOUS USE OF LOBBYING MUSCLE”

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach 10 articles from Europe (and one from Australia), with summaries first for those who don't have time to read the articles in full.

1. "Jewish bid to stop film" (By Gosia Kaszubska, Sunday Mail, Australia, July 4, 2003).

"A Jewish group's bid to stop the screening of a film by Holocaust-denying historian David Irving was an outrageous use of lobbying muscle, free speech advocates said yesterday. The Jewish Community Council of Victoria wants to stop a Melbourne film festival from screening Irving's The Search for Truth in History and organizing a live telephone hook-up with the British historian. The council has also sought an interim injunction on the Melbourne Underground Film Festival showing a documentary about the Israeli-Palestine conflict, claiming both the films and the phone hook-up would vilify Jewish people and incite hatred against them. Free Speech Victoria president Terry Lane said the legal bid was a pointless demonstration of the Jewish community's lobbying power, since Irving's ideas were widely available on the Internet. "This is another outrageous attempt by one small section of the community to determine what the whole community will see, hear and read," Lane, a broadcaster with ABC Radio National, said."

 

2. "Jordanian terror suspect says group planned to attack Berlin's Jewish Museum, Duesseldorf disco" (The Associated Press, Germany, July 4, 2003).

Berlin's Jewish Museum was chosen as a target for a planned attack last year by a radical Palestinian network, along with a Jewish-owned discotheque or bar in the western city of Duesseldorf, a Jordanian terror suspect testified at his trial Friday. Shadi Abdellah, 26, told the Duesseldorf state court that the buildings were targeted. "We hadn't yet decided whether we would do it with a car bomb or some other way," he added. According to the Al Tawhid group aims to topple the Jordanian government and "fight the Jews." Abdellah was arrested after he ordered a crate of hand grenades from a fellow cell member... Abdellah said he also took part in a course on how to produce poisons and use them in drinks and food. He added that he attended seminars on planning and carrying out terror attacks – passing "with 100 percent success." The Jewish Museum, an eye-catching zinc-clad building designed by American architect Daniel Libeskind, was opened in early September 2001 and has become one of the capital's top tourist attractions.

 

3. "Sharon might be arrested in Norway" (Al Jazeera.net/Hanne Dankertsen Nettavisen, July 3, 2003).

The Norwegian radical left-wing party RV is accusing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of committing war crimes and wants the PM to be arrested when he comes to Norway to meet the Norwegian Prime Minister on 16 July. The political party has sent a formal request for Sharon to be arrested to the Director of Public Prosecutions. "When he enters Norwegian ground, he can be arrested and presented to a court. If one finds that a prosecution would have to be delayed until he steps down as Prime Minister, at least his visit to Norway would open up an opportunity for the police to interview him in the interest of a future prosecution," said Dahle.

 

4. "World lawmakers resolve to combat anti-Semitism" (The Associated Press, July 6, 2003).

Lawmakers from around Europe resolved Sunday to lobby their home legislatures to take action against rising anti-Semitism and hate crimes. Meeting in Rotterdam, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe adopted a resolution urging governments to enact laws forbidding hate crimes, educate youth against racism and anti-Semitism, and train police to recognize and respond to hate crimes. The resolution, introduced by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, said disaffection with Israeli government policies toward the Palestinians was being used as a cover for anti-Semitism. "Anti-Semitism can't be allowed to camouflage, cloak or conceal its ugliness as mere policy differences with the State of Israel," Smith told 300 delegates. The OSCE is the world's largest regional security organization with 55 member nations from Europe, as well as the United States, Canada, Russia, and a number of central Asian countries.

 

“WON’T THESE UNSEEMLY NAZI COMPARISONS EVER END?”

5. "France to probe Netanya bombing which killed French citizen" (Ha'aretz, June 28, 2003).

A French judge is to launch an investigation into the March 2002 suicide bombing in the Park Hotel in Netanya, which killed 30 people, among them French citizen Myriam Lehmann Zaoui, a Holocaust survivor, was born in Germany. The judge will determine whether people tied to the bombing can be prosecuted and charged with murder. The suit was filed by Lehman's relatives.

 

6. "French Publisher faces prison for publishing material denying Holocaust" (The Associated Press, Lyon, June. 25, 2003).

An appeals court upheld the six-month prison sentence of an editor who published works that called into question the scope of the Nazi extermination of Jews during World War II. Plantin has regularly published works by Holocaust revisionists or neo-Nazi authors, including an article entitled "is Anne Frank's Diary authentic?" by Robert Faurisson. The lawyer for publisher Jean Plantin said he will appeal the decision to a higher court.

 

7. "France restores Nazi collaborator's pension" (Israel National News, July 2003).

France's top administrative authority has ordered the country's Finance Ministry to reinstate the pension of Maurice Papon, a World War Two-era Nazi collaborator convicted of signing deportation orders which sent 1,560 French Jews to the death camps. Papon, 92, was released from prison last year on the grounds of ill health and his advanced age after serving just three years of his ten-year prison sentence for crimes against humanity.

 

8. "Wiesenthal Centre protests a French municipality's refusal to Rename High School that honors a Nazi collaborator" (Paris, July 8 2003).

The Florent Schmitt high-school in the Paris suburb of Saint Cloud immortalizes a name whose past seems most inappropriately associated with any educational institution. Florent Schmitt was an acolyte of Adolf Hitler and a racist long before his collaboration under Vichy. As early as 1933, Schmitt shouted "Vive Hitler" and antisemitic insults during a concert of Jewish composer, Kurt Weill.

 

9. "Berlusconi Nazi insult hits Germans" (Reuters, Berlin, July 8, 2003).

Germans got an unwanted reminder of their nightmare past this month with Silvio Berlusconi's Nazi slur and as they tried to put the episode behind them as fast as possible they wondered – Why does everyone hate us? "Won't these unseemly Nazi comparisons ever end?" wrote columnist Rolf Kleine in Bild, Germany's top-selling newspaper.

 

10. "Irish snub Sharon for Arafat" (The Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2003).

Forced to choose between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen has opted for Arafat. Cowen met in Ramallah with Arafat, PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, and PA Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath, but not with Sharon. "This is no small crisis, and unfortunately reflects Europe's position," one senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official said. The official said that Cowen's move is more representative of European sentiment than the recent visit of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who met Sharon and refused to meet Arafat.

[All summaries above by Tom Gross]


FULL ARTICLES

JEWISH BID TO STOP FILM

Jewish bid to stop film
By Gosia Kaszubska
The Sunday Mail (Australia)
July 4, 2003

A Jewish group's bid to stop the screening of a film by Holocaust-denying historian David Irving was an outrageous use of lobbying muscle, free speech advocates said yesterday.

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria wants to stop a Melbourne film festival from screening Irving's The Search for Truth in History and organising a live telephone hook-up with the British historian. The council has also sought an interim injunction on the Melbourne Underground Film Festival showing a documentary about the Israeli-Palestine conflict, claiming both the films and the phone hook-up would vilify Jewish people and incite hatred against them.

It is believed to be the first time Victoria's racial and religious vilification laws have been used to attempt to ban the screening of a film.

Free Speech Victoria president Terry Lane said the legal bid was a pointless demonstration of the Jewish community's lobbying power, since Irving's ideas were widely available on the internet. "This is another outrageous attempt by one small section of the community to determine what the whole community will see, hear and read," Lane, a broadcaster with ABC Radio National, said yesterday.

Irving, whose theories denying the Holocaust happened have for years outraged Jewish communities and historians, was earlier this year refused entry into Australia for the third time. His film, which is scheduled to be screened next week, is Irving's response to his first ban from visiting Australia, in 1993.

Lane slammed the racial vilification laws as a great threat to free speech and said despite opposing Irving's views, his group had to defend "the rights of the ratbags".

Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Michael Lipshutz said while he had not seen either film, an interim injunction would give the Equal Opportunity Commission time to investigate his complaint that they would incite hatred against Jewish people. "This is not about power, or Jewish power. We all have rights under the law, and the Victorian parliament has proscribed certain actions as illegal," he said.

The second film, The Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Palestinian Perspective, claims the Holocaust was being used to justify US support for Israel.

"If they are saying that Jews are milking the Holocaust to preserve Israel, that's anti-Semitic," Mr Lipshutz said. Melbourne Underground Film Festival director Richard Wolstencroft said it was vital to air views that many in the community might disagree with, as a fundamental part of free debate. "The last thing we wanted to do is inspire racial hatred – we're totally about transcending those sorts of things," he said.

Festival representatives failed to appear at yesterday's Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeal Tribunal hearing but Mr Wolstencroft said organisers had no time, and little money, to mount a defence.

A ruling on the application for an interim injunction is expected today.

 

JORDANIAN TERROR SUSPECT SAYS GROUP PLANNED TO ATTACK BERLIN’S JEWISH MUSEUM

Jordanian terror suspect says group planned to attack Berlin's Jewish Museum, Duesseldorf disco
By Andreas Rehnolt
The Associated Press
July 4, 2003

Berlin's Jewish Museum was chosen as a target for a planned attack last year by a radical Palestinian network, along with a Jewish-owned discotheque or bar in the western city of Duesseldorf, a Jordanian terror suspect testified at his trial Friday. Shadi Abdellah, 26, told the Duesseldorf state court that the buildings were reconnoitred before his April 2002 arrest, but no decision was made on when to carry out attacks. "We hadn't yet decided whether we would do it with a car bomb or some other way," he added.

The defendant was among nine people detained simultaneously by German authorities on suspicion of plotting attacks on targets in two German cities for the Al Tawhid group which, according to Abdellah, aims to topple the Jordanian government and "fight the Jews." Prosecutors hadn't identified the targets.

Abdellah was arrested after he allegedly ordered a pistol with a silencer and a crate of hand grenades from a fellow cell member. He could face 10 years in prison if convicted on charges of membership in a terrorist organization and faking passports.

The suspect admitted Friday that the group ordered grenades and a pistol, but added that "we were living in Germany and it's not so easy to get hold of weapons here." Al Tawhid's alleged leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, urged the German cell from his home in Afghanistan to obtain an explosive he referred to as a "black pill," but the group decided that was too risky, Abdellah said.

Suicide attacks were considered as an option, he added. While Abdellah was reluctant to become a suicide bomber himself, he said the German cell's alleged leader, Mohammed Abu Dhess, was prepared to do so.

Abdellah, who was giving a fourth day of testimony Friday, has said he agreed to work in Germany for Zarqawi in early 2001 after they got to know each other in Afghanistan.

During his stay there, Abdellah has acknowledged also serving briefly as Osama bin Laden's bodyguard. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has described al-Zarqawi as an associate of the al-Qaida leader.

Abdellah said Thursday that al-Zarqawi asked him to go to Jordan and attack the country's army, but he offered instead to go to Germany to collect donations for the group. Al-Zarqawi agreed but insisted that he first attend a weeklong explosives course "in case we need you," he said.

On Friday, Abdellah said he also took part in a course on how to produce poisons and use them in drinks and food. He added that he attended seminars on planning and carrying out terror attacks – passing "with 100 percent success."

Prosecutors say that, during a September 2001 meeting in Tehran, al-Zarqawi instructed Abu Dhess – a longtime Jordanian acquaintance of Abdellah – to carry out attacks on Jewish or Israeli institutions in Germany.

Abdellah said the German cell came under heavy pressure from al-Zarqawi to push ahead with the attacks, and the defendant said he reported to another alleged cell member that targets had been found.

The Jewish Museum, an eye-catching zinc-clad building designed by American architect Daniel Libeskind, was opened in early September 2001 and has become one of the capital's top tourist attractions.

Abdellah said he happened on the building as a possible target "by chance" on a walk through the capital.

The German Al Tawhid cell was based in the region around Duesseldorf, and Abdellah lived in the nearby town of Krefeld.

Four more suspected cell members, including Abu Dhess, remain in custody in Germany. Abdellah's trial continues next Tuesday.

 

SHARON MIGHT BE ARRESTED IN NORWAY

Sharon might be arrested in Norway
Al Jazeera.net
July 3, 2003

The Norwegian radical left-wing party RV is accusing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for committing war crimes and wants the PM to be arrested when he comes to Norway to meet the Norwegian Prime Minister in two weeks.

RV thinks Sharon is guilty of a range of war crimes through his history as Israel's leader and that as such, he should be arrested when he comes to Norway on 16 July. The political party has sent a formal request for Sharon to be arrested to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Torstein Dahle (right), leader of RV, is pointing out a number of incidents in Sharon's time as General when he was leading attacks on Palestinian civilians.

These are two of the points in the request for the arrest:

In October 1953 Sharon was leading the force Unit 101 in to the village of Qibya and blew up 45 houses. 69 people were killed, amongst them women and children.

Through the work of an Israeli investigation lead by Yitzhak Kahan, it has been proved that Sharon was responsible for the 1982 massacres in the refugee camps Sabra and Shatila. A Lebanese force that was allowed access to the camps by Israeli forces that Sharon was controlling, murdered more than 800 people. Ariel Sharon was forced to step down from his position as Minister of Defence as a result of the Israeli report in connection with this incident.

The Geneva Convention Dahle is also pointing out the Geneva Convention that Israel has agreed on.

The convention says "The occupying power is not to deport or transfer parts of their own population to the area of occupation".

RV thinks Israel is doing this by building Jewish homes by the West Bank.

On these grounds, Dahle thinks Sharon should be arrested when entering Norway on 16 July.

When he enters Norwegian ground, he can be arrested and presented to a court. If one finds that a prosecution would have to be delayed until he steps down as Prime Minister, at least his visit to Norway would open up an opportunity for the police to interview him in the interest of a future prosecution», said Dahle.

 

WORLD LAWMAKERS RESOLVE TO COMBAT ANTI-SEMITISM

World lawmakers resolve to combat anti-Semitism
The Associated Press
July 6, 2003

Lawmakers from around Europe resolved Sunday to lobby their home legislatures to take action against rising anti-Semitism and hate crimes.

Meeting in Rotterdam, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe adopted a resolution urging governments to enact laws forbidding hate crimes, educate youth against racism and anti-Semitism, and train police to recognize and respond to hate crimes.

The resolution, introduced by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, said disaffection with Israeli government policies toward the Palestinians was being used as a cover for anti-Semitism. "Anti-Semitism can't be allowed to camouflage, cloak or conceal its ugliness as mere policy differences with the State of Israel," Smith told 300 delegates.

The OSCE is the world's largest regional security organization with 55 member nations from Europe, as well as the United States, Canada, Russia, and a number of central Asian countries.

In a telephone interview, Smith said his proposal builds on ideas vetted in a conference on anti-Semitism held in Berlin last month. Smith said recent studies show that hate crimes "tend to be committed by first and second generation Arab immigrants. It's important that you don't stereotype, but there's enough to make it a serious problem."

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, which tracks anti-Semitism, says attacks against Jews in Europe have reached the highest level since World War II. Since 2001, the center has documented 1,300 anti-Semitic acts in France, including the stabbing of a rabbi in Paris early this year, and the brutal beating of two Jewish boys in March.

Increases also have been recorded in other European countries. A study by the Anti-Defamation League showed that 21 percent of people in five European countries had strongly anti-Jewish views.

Smith said there hasn't been a "appreciable" corresponding rise in hate crimes in Europe committed against Muslims as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, but he hoped governments will begin keeping better track of hate crimes data.

"Reporting is passive," he said. "It needs to be active, because that can lead to mitigation efforts: once you have empirical proof, it makes it easier to mobilize governments."

 

FRANCE TO PROBE NETANYA BOMBING WHICH KILLED FRENCH CITIZEN

France to probe Netanya bombing which killed French citizen
Ha'aretz
June 28, 2003

A French judge is to launch an investigation into the March 2002 suicide bombing in the Park Hotel in Netanya, which killed 30 people, among them French citizen Myriam Lehmann Zaoui, Israel Radio reported Saturday.

The judge will determine whether people tied to the bombing can be prosecuted and charged with murder. The suit was filed by Lehman's relatives.

Lehmann, 77, a Holocaust survivor, was born in Germany. She fled to France during World War II. She immigrated to Israel in 1987. Her husband a grandson were lightly injured on the attack.

 

FRENCH PUBLISHER FACES PRISON FOR PUBLISHING MATERIAL DENYING HOLOCAUST

French Publisher faces prison for publishing material denying Holocaust
The Associated Press
June. 25, 2003

An appeals court on Wednesday upheld the six-month prison sentence of an editor who published works that called into question the scope of the Nazi extermination of Jews during World War II.

The lawyer for publisher Jean Plantin said he will appeal the decision to a higher court.

A lower court found Plantin guilty in June 2000 and issued him a six-month suspended sentence for publishing materials challenging some aspects of the Holocaust, including the use of gas chambers to kill vast numbers of Jews during the war. The court also ordered Plantin to stop his activities.

But prosecutors say Plantin continued to publish similar works, thus violating a condition of his suspended sentence. A court in January revoked the suspension, a ruling that was upheld on appeal Wednesday.

Plantin has regularly published works by Holocaust revisionists or neo-Nazi authors, including an article entitled "is Anne Frank's Diary authentic?" by Robert Faurisson.

 

FRANCE RESTORES NAZI COLLABORATOR’S PENSION

France restores Nazi collaborator's pension
By Michael Freund
Israel National News
July 2003

France's top administrative authority has ordered the country's Finance Ministry to reinstate the pension of Maurice Papon, a World War Two-era Nazi collaborator convicted of signing deportation orders which sent 1,560 French Jews to the death camps.

Papon, 92, was released from prison last year on the grounds of ill health and his advanced age after serving just three years of his ten-year prison sentence for crimes against humanity. He was convicted in 1998 for his actions as prefect of France's Gironde region under the collaborationist Vichy regime in the early 1940's.

The French government last year suspended Papon's civil service pension retroactively to October 1999, but the new ruling by France's Council of State effectively overturns the previous decision. As a result, Papon will now be entitled to receive four years' worth of back-payments for the period in which his pension was not paid.

The Council of State justified its decision by asserting that there was no legal basis to deny a civil servant his or her rights under law, even if he had been convicted of serious crimes.

After the ruling was made public, France's Justice Ministry issued a statement saying that under French law, family members of Papon's victims could demand compensation out of any pension funds paid to him.

"The ruling of the Council of State... should not be a new ordeal for the victims and their families. (Justice Minister) Dominique Perben assures them of his support," the statement said.

 

WIESENTHAL CENTRE PROTESTS

Wiesenthal Centre protests a French municipality's refusal to rename high school that honours a Nazi collaborator

Paris, July 8, 2003

The Florent Schmitt high-school in the Paris suburb of Saint Cloud immortalizes a name whose past seems most inappropriately associated with any educational institution.

The school was given this name in 1968 to honour "an eminent French musicologist," decorated with the Legion d'Honneur in 1952, a national prize laureate in 1957, and even celebrated as the face on a dedicated postal stamp in 1992.

In a letter to French National Education Minister, Luc Ferry, the Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Liaison, Dr. Shimon Samuels, protested stated that "what was once local rumour has now been confirmed by an enquiry of the historian Denis Tallon in the National Archives: Florent Schmitt was an acolyte of Adolf Hitler and a racist long before his collaboration under Vichy. In 1933, Schmitt shouted "Vive Hitler" and antisemitic insults during a concert of Jewish composer, Kurt Weill. From 1935, he was a member of the France-Germany Committee. In 1941, he was invited by the Nazis to Vienna to mark the 150th anniversary of Mozart's death. Finally, under Vichy, he was the Honorary Co-President of the musical ensemble named 'Collaboration'."

Samuels asked: "Is this then a name to adorn a high-school and a nearby street? We are impressed that, in June 2002, nine hundred of the 1,400 pupils petitioned to rename their school 'Alexandre Dumas'."

The letter pointed out that, "now, one year later, the municipality has rejected the proposal while the mayor and the regional council refuse to state a position."

The Centre advised the Minister that "his recently announced school campaign against racism and intolerance is impugned as long as Florent Schmitt remains an icon on the name-plate of a high-school," urging him "to heed the student body and rename the school forthwith while, also, publicly condemning and ordering an official enquiry into the procedure whereby a Nazi collaborator escaped punishment and achieved glory in post-War France."

 

BERLUSCONI NAZI INSULT HITS GERMANS

Berlusconi Nazi insult hits Germans
By Erik Kirschbaum
Reuters
July 8, 2003

Germans got an unwanted reminder of their nightmare past this month with Silvio Berlusconi's Nazi slur and as they tried to put the episode behind them as fast as possible they wondered – Why does everyone hate us?

The Italian Prime Minister compared a little-known German politician to a Nazi prison guard during a heated debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week, triggering a furore that cast a shadow over Berlusconi and German-Italian relations.

Berlusconi's insult, telling Martin Schulz he would be a perfect candidate for a Nazi character in a film, drew rebukes across Europe. But in Germany the outburst caused more shock and sorrow than anger or indignation.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder first demanded an apology and then after a hastily arranged telephone call said he gladly accepted Berlusconi's regrets.

Sensing Germans have no stomach for Nazi stories or reminders of their grandfathers' crimes, Schroeder welcomed what he labelled an apology as a chance to close the chapter.

Berlusconi later insisted he had not apologised, saying he had only expressed his sadness for being badly interpreted.

"I did not make an apology," Berlusconi said. He defended himself, saying he had in mind a clumsy German soldier named "Schultz" in the 1960s U.S. television series "Hogan's Heroes."

Schroeder had no further comment. "The wider political dimensions were cleared up and the chancellor considers the case closed," said Schroeder's spokesman Bela Anda on Friday.

But Schulz, the little-known member of the European Parliament who angered Berlusconi, said on Sunday the Italian leader had only confirmed the worst fears of his detractors with the outburst.

"Berlusconi is cooking up a new version of events every day but it doesn't change his nature of the insult," said Schulz, 47. "He should apologise to the European Parliament as fast as possible and make it clear that his lapse won't happen again."

WILL NAZI COMPARISONS EVER END?

For 63 million Germans born after World War Two – some 75 percent of the population – Berlusconi's astonishing insult tore open old wounds.

"Won't these unseemly Nazi comparisons ever end?" wrote columnist Rolf Kleine in Bild, Germany's top-selling newspaper.

"Whether outside Germany or from within, it's always tempting when there are no other arguments to bash Germans with the Nazi battering ram. The darkest chapter in our history is often used as a killer argument. Just stop it now!"

Six decades after the war Germans are sensitive about their Nazi past and Nazi references are often political dynamite.

Schroeder dropped his justice minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin last year after she stirred a row with the United States by comparing President George W. Bush's policies towards Iraq to those of Adolf Hitler.

"Nazi analogies are total nonsense," said Dietmar Herz, political science professor at Erfurt University. "They have nothing to do with Germany today. Abroad, they're being artificially kept alive by the press in countries like England."

When overseas Germans are often bewildered to still be confronted by the past – called Krauts or greeted by the stiff-armed Hitler salute. But they are still unable to completely shrug off the burden of guilt from that era – and would rather not be reminded of it.

"Germans are always having to fight old cliches abroad," said Herz.

Student Anna Mueller-Busch said Berlusconi was out of line.

"Berlusconi's remarks only perpetuate the image abroad of Germans as Nazis," said Mueller-Busch, 27. "The Germans he attacked had nothing to do with the Nazis."

Gerhard Haendeler, a Wuppertal tax adviser, said Berlusconi had insulted generations of Germans born after the war.

"Italy isn't short on fascists itself," said Haendeler, 53. "Our generation had nothing to do with what went on back then. It's especially ironic given the amount of power he wields."

A Berlin student named Beatrice, 20, said she was tired of always having to defend her country when she was abroad.

"People abroad think of Germany as Nazis and beer. You always have to deal with it and always have to defend yourself. I was on an school exchange programme in Israel, and because I was German, the subject was always raised."

While Germans may be admired for their powerful economy, they just aren't liked in many places, opinion polls in foreign countries consistently show.

In spite of huge efforts to improve their standing and put behind them the image of dangerous belligerents whose armies trampled across Europe in the 20th century, Germans regularly encounter resentment abroad.

A recent survey of 1,000 British young people between the age of 16 and 24 by the Goethe Institute showed a majority had negative views of Germans.

"We shouldn't forget the Nazi past," said student Ines Daniels, 26. "But we have to move on and draw a line somewhere."

(Additional reporting by Claire Soares in Rome and Dave Graham in Berlin)

 

IRISH SNUB SHARON FOR ARAFAT

Irish snub Sharon for Arafat
By Herb Keinon
The Jerusalem Post
June 25, 2003

Forced to choose between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen has opted for Arafat.

Cowen is slated to arrive Wednesday night and meet Thursday in Ramallah with Arafat, PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, and PA Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath.

Israeli diplomatic officials said that when it was made clear to the Irish that if Cowen meets Arafat, he will be unable to meet any Israeli officials, the Irish decided to forgo the meetings in Israel.

"This is no small crisis, and unfortunately reflects Europe's position," one senior Foreign Ministry official said.

The official said that Cowen's move is more representative of European sentiment than the recent visit of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who met Sharon and refused to meet Arafat. He, in turn, was snubbed by Abbas.

Although Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson and the foreign ministers of Denmark and Norway all recently postponed visits because they did not want to find themselves in a similar dilemma, Cowen is the first diplomat to have decided to bypass Israeli officials to pay what Philip Grant, an official at the Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv, called a "courtesy call" to Arafat.

Grant, referring to the Spanish precedent, said his government is trying to arrange another trip to Israel for Cowen for bilateral talks.

In May, Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio made two different trips here in five days to get around the government's policy of snubbing officials who meet Arafat. That policy was adopted on May 18 after a spate of four terrorist attacks in 12 hours.

One diplomatic official said, however, it is not at all clear whether Israel will agree to this type of "solution" in the future. It is not a question of not meeting Arafat and Sharon on the same trip, the official said, it is rather that Israel is convinced these meetings build up Arafat, make things more difficult for Abbas, and as a result impede process on the road map. At the same time, he said, Israel does not want to find itself in a position in which foreign diplomats won't visit, as these visits are an important vehicle for dialogue.

The US agrees with Israel about not meeting Arafat, and not only do its officials not do so, but Washington has also turned to the Europeans with formal requests not to meet Arafat. These requests, according to Israeli diplomatic officials, have been "tossed into the garbage."

Palacio's visit was in the works before the government adopted its policy of snubbing those who meet Arafat, which is why Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom agreed to meet with her just a few days after she met with Arafat.

But that, diplomatic officials explained, was meant to be the exception to the rule, not the new rule.

Ireland is scheduled to take over the rotating presidency of the EU from Italy in January. In addition to going to the PA, Cowen will also visit Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.