1. “IDF ‘recruits’ Harley-Davidsons” (Ynetnews, May 10, 2005)
2. “50,000 Germans to sing for Israel” (Jerusalem Post, May 11, 2005)
3. “Jews angry over memorial plan for death camp tooth” (Sunday Telegraph, May 13, 2005)
4. “Vandal scrawls swastika on Berlin Holocaust memorial on its first day open” (AP, May 13, 2005)
[Note by Tom Gross]
In line with my aim to send “lighter” items on this list, when possible, I attach two such articles, on (1) the purchase by the Israeli army of 60 new Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycles which will be reserved for use by “exemplary soldiers”; and (2) 50,000 Germans serenaded Israel with the Stevie Wonder version of “Happy Birthday” last Thursday, Israel’s Independence day.
Leo Sucharewicz, who founded the “I Like Israel” movement two years ago, organized a mass singing celebration of Israel’s Independence in 20 cities throughout Germany, involving Jews and non-Jews alike.
SHOWING THE MEDIA THAT “THEY FAILED”
“We wanted to show the media that all their nasty anti-Israel headlines have failed, and that if you want to do something to support Israel, you don’t have to be afraid,” said Sucharewicz, a communication psychologist and political scientist who lives in Munich, and is Jewish and used to live in Israel.
His group has been in touch with Turkish and Kurdish groups in Germany, as well as a group called Arabs and Muslims for Israel, according to a Jerusalem Post report.
Ironically, he said, the main obstacles have been “cowardly Jews afraid of being identified with Israel” and Israeli bureaucracy. “We asked El Al to send brochures, and only after three months of negotiations did they say they’d send a measly 200 brochures,” Sucharewicz complained. “The Israeli Embassy sent only 30 brochures per city. It’s ridiculous.”
A TOOTH FROM BELZEC
I also attach two much more serious items connected to the new Berlin “Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.”
The Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday that the memorial has become embroiled in an emotional dispute just two days after its opening over a plan to fix the tooth of a murdered Jew into a concrete pillar at the site.
Germany’s Jewish community has strongly objected to the planting of the tooth, found at Belzec concentration camp in Poland, in one of the concrete pillars, along with a yellow Star of David. They say that burying body parts anywhere other than a Jewish cemetery was “blasphemous” and contravened Jewish law.
In a separate development, anti-Semitic vandals have – predictably – scrawled a swastika on the Berlin Holocaust memorial only one day after its opening last week.
NEWS OUTLETS CONTINUE TO BE INSPIRED BY THIS LIST
Items sent out on this email list continue to be appear later in other news publications.
For example, page 1 of today’s Financial Times has a story about Al-Jazeera’s plans to launch an English language channel next year, headlined “Al-Jazeera to go English.” That news was carried on this email list in the dispatch Al-Jazeera to be launched in English in America on March 23, 2005 (which was based on original research carried out by this list in the Arab media).
Another example among many is The Jerusalem Post story of May 9, 2005, titled “Corrie compared to Anne Frank” detailing comparisons of Rachel Corrie with Anne Frank and with Primo Levi. The Jerusalem Post story is almost a direct copy, word for word, of the introductory note and original research in the dispatch of May 5, 2005 titled “Theater critics compare Rachel Corrie to Primo Levi and Anne Frank,” even including my item about David Irving nominating Rachel Corrie for the Nobel Peace Prize on his website.
There are several Financial Times and Jerusalem Post journalists and editors on this list.
-- Tom Gross
IDF ‘RECRUITS’ HARLEY-DAVIDSONS
IDF ‘recruits’ Harley-Davidsons
Military Police purchase 60 legendary motorcycles using American aid money
By Hanan Greenberg
May 10, 2005
The IDF’s Military Police have purchased 60 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles using American aid money. The legendary motorcycles will gradually replace older models over the next two years.
The first six Harleys were showcased Monday at a prize-giving ceremony for exemplary soldiers at an IDF instruction base north of Tel Aviv.
Military Police Head Brigadier General Miki Barel said his unit plans to replace all its motorcycles over the next two years with new Harley-Davidson Sportsters, at a cose of USD 10,000 a piece.
“We are indeed talking about a prestigious bike, but in practice it did not cost that much, because it was partly paid for with money from the U.S.,” Barel told Ynet. “This is no doubt a step up from the motorcycles we have in the corps today.”
Older is better?
However, despite the enthusiasm, Corporal Moran Benisti remains loyal to her old Honda, despite having an opportunity to take the new Harley out for a test drive.
“It’s obvious this motorcycle is better,” she said. “But I still prefer the old Honda...it’s the right size for a small person like myself. It’s more comfortable than the new motorcycle, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.”
Benisti is one of 45 IDF soldiers enlisted in the army’s traffic police unit who use motorcycles for both law enforcement and deterrence.
The IDF is expected to receive more motorcycles over the next few months to gradually replace the outdated Hondas and BMWs
50,000 GERMANS TO SING FOR ISRAEL
50,000 Germans to sing for Israel
By Sam Ser
The Jerusalem Post
May 11, 2005
Fifty thousand Germans have never before serenaded Israel with the Stevie Wonder version of “Happy Birthday” – but they will on Thursday.
Leo Sucharewicz, who founded the “I Like Israel” movement two years ago, has organized a mass celebration of Israel’s Independence Day in 20 cities throughout Germany, and in 10 more around the world. There will be stages set up in public parks, with Israeli songs, dancing and speeches about Israel.
At each place, Sucharewicz told The Jerusalem Post, 10 people – Jews and non-Jews – will get on the stage and tell the crowd what they like about Israel.
Professional soccer players and local politicians will also take part, with some cities’ ceremonies to be opened by their mayor.
“Why do we do it?” asked Sucharewicz. “To bring legions of people to Israel, to promote Israel as a Jewish country, to stop Israel bashing, to show the media that all their nasty anti-Israel headlines have failed. Also, to show that if you want to do something to support Israel, you don’t have to be afraid.”
A communication psychologist and political scientist who lives in Munich and works on the marketing strategies of the top 50 companies in the country, Sucharewicz spent two years living in Israel in the late 1960s, serving in the Golani Brigade, and his two daughters now live here.
Two years ago, wanting to promote Israel’s hasbara (PR) efforts in Germany, he and a team of Jewish professionals in marketing and project management (together with some volunteers) developed a “strategic concept” with Israel Day ceremonies at its core. Ceremonies were held in three cities in 2003, and have expanded since.
ILI believes there is great potential for a pro-Israel “market” in Germany.
ILI has even been in touch with Turkish and Kurdish groups in Germany, as well as a group there called Arabs and Muslims for Israel, he said.
“I want to see 1 million Germans in the streets [for Israel Day] by 2010,” he said, “and I want to see this go all the way to Kuwait City.”
So far, German authorities have been very cooperative, and ILI has met with little resistance otherwise, Sucharewicz said. “We have gotten the usual e-mails from Muslims,” he said, “and we expect some counterdemonstrations from neo-Nazis – but to hell with them.”
Ironically, he said, the main obstacles have been “hyper-religious or cowardly Jews afraid of being identified with Israel” and an obtuse Israeli bureaucracy.
“We asked El Al to send brochures, and only after three months of negotiations did they say they’d send a measly 200 brochures,” Sucharewicz complained. “The Israeli Embassy sent only 30 brochures per city. It’s ridiculous.”
JEWS ANGRY OVER MEMORIAL PLAN FOR DEATH CAMP TOOTH
Jews angry over memorial plan for death camp tooth
By Kate Connolly in Berlin
May 13, 2005
Berlin’s new Holocaust memorial was embroiled in an emotional dispute just two days after its opening over a plan to fix the tooth of a murdered Jew into a concrete pillar at the site.
Germany’s Jewish community has said it may be forced to boycott the vast monument if Lea Rosh, who led the 17-year campaign to build the memorial, goes ahead with her proposal. Its leaders have accused her of “blasphemy” and “irreverence”.
In front of a thousand guests at Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony, including Holocaust survivors and rabbis, Mrs Rosh held up a molar which she found during a visit to the Belzec concentration camp in Poland 17 years ago.
It was sticking out of the sand among other teeth from Holocaust victims, she said, adding that it had given her the impetus to start campaigning for the memorial and that she had carried it around with her ever since.
Mrs Rosh, 68, is a television presenter who changed her name to its current form at the age of 18 and is the granddaughter of a Jew. She explained that the tooth would be embedded in one of the concrete pillars, along with a yellow Star of David that Jews were required to wear under the Third Reich. It had been given to her by a Dutch Jewish woman whose mother was killed in a camp.
Mrs Rosh added that the memorial’s architect, Peter Eisenman, had agreed to oversee the task.
“The dead have no grave, but this memorial should stand for one,” she said.
Yesterday leaders of the Jewish community expressed outrage at the gesture. “I am not surprised, but furious,” said Paul Spiegel, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. “I find Lea Rosh’s behaviour impious.”
He said burying body parts anywhere other than a Jewish cemetery was “blasphemous” and contravened Jewish law.
Albert Meyer, the chairman of Berlin’s Jewish community, said he was furious. “If this happens, we Jews have to consider whether or not we can set foot on this site. Mrs Rosh responded by saying she had checked with Jewish scholars before making the announcement.
“My wish is in compliance with Jewish law. I did my research,” she said.
One rabbi, Yitzhak Ehrenberg, did defend her yesterday. He wrote in a statement that while bodies or large body parts had to be buried in a Jewish cemetery, there would be no problem “about burying a tooth in a stone” as long as it was not used for any specific purpose.
But Rabbi Chaim Rozwaski, also from Berlin, disagreed. “If the tooth is buried in a pillar, it is an exhibition piece and therefore it has a use.”
The memorial has been subject to controversy since its conception, with several disputes almost leading to the demise of the project.
The most serious followed the discovery that Degussa, the company providing an anti-graffiti spray, was linked to the makers of Zyklon B, the poison gas used in the concentration camps.
Mr Eisenman also provoked outrage when he made a joke about his New York dentist and fillings which some thought anti-Semitic.
He later apologised, calling the row a “cultural misunderstanding”.
VANDAL SCRAWLS SWASTIKA ON BERLIN HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL ON ITS FIRST DAY OPEN
Vandal scrawls swastika on Berlin Holocaust memorial on its first day open
The Associated Press (as used by Ha’aretz)
May 13, 2005
Within hours of the opening of Germany’s new national Holocaust memorial to the public, a vandal scratched a Nazi swastika into one of the 2,711 gray slabs, a spokesman for the memorial said Friday.
The small swastika was spotted by security guards and quickly removed, though the vandal was not caught, said spokesman Uwe Neumaerker.
“What else can we do?” he said. “There are some security forces and they walk through and if they find something they remove it, but with 19,000 square meters (204,500 square feet) and 2,711 stele, what can we do? You can’t be everywhere at once.”
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was officially inaugurated Tuesday after years of debate and delay.
The underground information center had 2,700 visitors but many more wandered among the haunting field of slabs, and Neumaerker said he could not even speculate who may have defaced the slab.
“There were thousands from all over the world,” he said. “We don’t know who it was or whether it was a political background. It is an open memorial and anybody can go in, if such things happen it’s not good, but what shall we do?”
Designed by U.S. architect Peter Eisenman, the memorial in the former no man’s land of the Berlin Wall is a labyrinth of narrow rising and falling pathways between the upright slabs in the ground.
It took 17 years of wrangling among German politicians over its design and message before it was finally completed.
Ahead of its opening, Eisenman said he recognized the memorial could not please everyone, and that he wouldn’t mind skateboarders, children playing hide and seek or even graffiti on the slabs.
Asked Monday if the project would be demeaned if someone scratched Nazi symbols on it, he was noncommittal. “Maybe it would. Maybe it wouldn’t,” Eisenman said. “Maybe it would add to it.”