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PORTSIDE  July 2012, Week 1

PORTSIDE July 2012, Week 1

Subject:

No Deutschland Uber Alles - and No Bris

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Date:

Mon, 2 Jul 2012 21:00:18 -0400

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text/plain (249 lines)

No Deutschland Uber Alles - and No Bris

By Victor Grossman 

Berlin

July 3, 2012

Berlin Bulletin No. 45

Germany suffered two losses last week, and underwent
one very intimate decision. Whether the latter was a
win or a loss depends on your (point of) view - about
male circumcision.

Most important to most Germans was probably their hope
to win the European soccer championship, held this year
in Poland and the Ukraine. Germany was triumphant in
one match game after another, the old rah-rah spirit
heightened, more and more cars sported red, black and
gold flags, in the blocked-off avenue in Tierpark tens
of thousands waited to rejoice. But alas, in the
semifinal, the tall, muscular black ace Mario Balotelli
of Italy shot two magnificent goals (2-1) and sent the
German team home, not disgraced but very despondent.
The usual left-wing arguments  - did all those flags
reflect good-spirited patriotism and hometown
solidarity or call up nasty ghosts from the past -
faded away with the defeat, while Italy went on to lose
to Spain in the final game.

No, singing Deutschland uber alles was not called for.
Nor was it at the summit meeting of 27 European heads
of state. Once again, it was those Italians. Premier
Mario Monti led the field against Angela Merkel this
time, and although most of the media saw the result as
a victory of Italy (and Spain) over Germany - just like
the soccer scene - it was no time to sing Bandiera
rossa either; the proper anthem was that old lefty
favorite The Banks Are Made of Marble, for, as usual,
they were the main winners.

The Merkel method for solving the brutal economic
crisis hitting the economies all over Europe, even
endangering the survival of the Euro in the seventeen
countries which use this currency, is simply austerity,
that is belt-tightening. Those weak sisters, mostly in
the south, like Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Spain and
very possibly Italy, should simply cut national
expenditures, reduce government staffs, pay their
debts, and thus regain solvency and financial
well-being. Just be more like Germany and everything
will be dandy; that was her basic message, and it was
long applauded by most of the German media. The most
important, the rag called BILD (meaning "picture"),
with its alleged eleven million readers (expanded last
week by a one-day celebration of its sixtieth birthday,
with free copies stuffed into forty million
letterboxes) has led the way. After forcing one
president out of office and putting its own man in to
take his place, it went back to bashing Greece, or
rather the Greeks, as if their economic misery was
their own fault, due to laziness and living on Easy
Street. But this brutal nonsense got people asking "Why
should we pay our hard-earned money to support those
good-for- nothings?" National elections are due in
2013, Merkel's Christian Democrats have been slipping;
it is hard for Merkel to buck this vicious stuff even
if she would want to.

Only this time, on key issues, the political big shots
of Spain and Italy prevailed over Merkel. Like Greece,
they are facing disaster and collapse with unions, the
jobless, above all the young people fighting back more
and more vigorously. The prevailing austerity policies,
which Merkel wanted to make even tougher, can wreck the
Euro and cause crisis and depression everywhere, also
in Germany, whose economy - relatively solid thanks to
big export success and low or stagnant wages - is now
showing menacing cracks. Italy, Spain and France pushed
together - and won some safety valves in the austerity
machine, giving those countries a little more breathing
space, at least financially.  Without Merkel's buddy,
Sarkozy, holding hands with her, German economic power
was no longer supreme and despite a mix of confident
smiles and strong- sounding words, Angela's image
suffered visibly at home and abroad.

But she has a reputation for resiliency and succeeded
in pushing the resulting Fiscal Pact through the
Bundestag and the Bundesrat (Upper House) with the
necessary two-thirds majority. But just barely. A group
from her own governing coalition deserted but the two
main opposition parties, the Social Democrats and the
Greens, gave her the needed votes. They justified their
support by pointing to concessions they had won - a tax
on financial transactions at long last (a very tiny
one), some money to combat youth unemployment, and
somewhat higher taxes on the very wealthy. But all were
vague and uncertain.

This is where the Left party moved in. Aside from a
small but media-effective demonstration outside the big
Bundestag building, it took this Fiscal Pact right up
to the German Supreme Court, claiming the rights of the
duly-elected German Bundestag to make decisions for the
people of the country are abridged, granting key powers
into the hands of European financial and political
institutions and banks unelected and uncontrolled by
the people. It is therefore unconstitutional. Several
others joined in, including a prominent member of the
Bavarian Christian Social Union, a member of her
coalition government. Until this claim is ruled on the
president cannot sign the law, with its bail-out fund
for the southern sisters.

Then the brainy, eloquent theoretician Sahra
Wagenknecht, newly-elected co-vice-president of the
Left party, took the floor in the Bundestag for the 15
minutes allowed her.  What a quarter of an hour: I have
rarely seen a more powerful, hard-hitting speech! She
mercilessly exposed the whole racket at play in
European economies. The people, especially the poorest
people, are forced to pay for the crimes of the banks.
This was seen most tragically in Greece, where
unemployment has soared, to about 50 percent among
young people, where pensions have been cut, thousands
of government employees laid off, countless evictions,
health and education are cut and valuable properties
given to the highest bidders. The billions granted
Greece so graciously to regain stability went almost
entirely into the same banks which caused the disaster,
and which simply kept on shoveling in the wealth of
both the neediest country and the neediest in the donor
country. When the banks are in trouble, as today in
Spain, it is they who get rescued, not the millions of
jobless. Wagenknecht named three of the main
beneficiaries: Goldman-Sachs, Morgan-Stanley and the
Deutsche Bank, whose recently retired boss Josef
Ackermann was a close buddy of Merkel and man in the
government.

Wagenknecht called on the Social Democrats and Greens
to check out their consciences. In exchange for vague
and minor concessions they were supporting the Merkel
government in a move which can further impoverish the
countries in trouble, cut social benefits and democracy
in Germany and move further to a Europe dominated by
financial monsters and devoted to cutting living
standards everywhere - while expanding its military
muscle in areas around the globe. She recalled how both
parties speak voice many progressive words when out of
office, but in power forget them, and in cases like the
present, when the chips are down, they sing along with
the ruling parties in fearsome quartet. But the
politicians she was addressing tried to heckle or
looked studiedly bored.

Now what about that other item, hardly if at all
reported in the US media, I believe. A District Court
in Cologne, striking down the ruling of a lower court,
decided that circumcision was illegal, indeed a
punishable offence, since the "fundamental right of the
child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental
rights of the parents." Although this was no decision
on a national scale, it was a precedent, which could be
broadened in scope, and understandably raised a huge
amount of debate. It involved not only the small Jewish
community - estimates range from somewhat over 100,000
religiously affiliated and perhaps another 100,000 who
are not in a congregation. But there are also about
four million Muslims in Germany, Turks, Arabs, Kurds,
North Africans, Bosnians and Afghanis and Persians,
whose religion also calls for the circumcision of young
boys.

Despite the fact that this is no binding law, it does
mean that doctors will carefully consider whether to
risk a sentence for "mutilating" their young patients.
And so will perhaps the few mohels in the Jewish
community(who are traditionally the practitioners).

One Jewish leader said that if such a decision becomes
law, all Jews would see fit to leave Germany -difficult
to imagine in view of the close relations between the
German government and the Netanyahu government and its
predecessors.

And as for the Muslims, a key part of many communities,
sometimes more, sometimes less integrated into German
society, what will they do? While debates rage about
the medical plus or minus of the operation and about
religious freedom versus rights of the individual, one
strange development is conceivable. Unfortunately a few
leading right-wing members of the Jewish community have
joined in the Muslimophobia hate campaigns; could there
now develop a sort of United Front against foreskins?
Who can imagine the outcome? + A flash item on a
totally different subject: The neo-Nazi murder
conspiracy, which resulted in the deaths of nine
Turkish and one Greek man and one policewoman as well
as bomb explosions and bank robberies, lasted for over
ten years before it suddenly came to light after the
death of two of the murderers and the arrest of a third
one. A parliamentary committee has long been studying
why the Constitutional Protection Agency, like the FBI,
and other crime-fighting ofices never found or stopped
this series of killings, but instead put the blame on
Turkish mafia elements or the like and kept
concentrating on left-wing people and Islamic
terrorists. But since the Constitutional Protectors had
filled the ranks of the neo-Nazi groups with their own
spies, often themselves pro-Nazi, they should certainly
have found clues as to the real murderers. There were
indeed clues, but nothing was done. Now, suddenly it
has  come to light that the Protectors had been ordered
last November 11th to turn over all relevant documents
to the investigating committee. Instead, somehow, one
day later, all or most of the material was shoved
through a shredder. Today the president of the
Constitution Protectors was forced to resign - and the
story has not yet ended. One clue from the beginnings
of this institution came to light recently: one of the
men working for the Protectors after the war (and its
American-run predecessor) was Karl Josef Silberbauer.
He was the same man, then an SS and Gestapo officer,
who arrested Anne Frank and her family in their
Amsterdam hide-out.

It has been a full week!

___________________________________________

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