German public opinion of Israel is slumping ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit there. There is growing public and political disillusionment over Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian neighbors.
Merkel and her 15 cabinet ministers will participate in the largest-ever bilateral consultations on Monday and will kick off official preparations for next year’s celebrations commemorating 50 years since diplomatic relations between the two countries were established.
However, the visit has been overshadowed by reports of the worst crisis in diplomatic ties since Merkel took office almost 10 years ago. A recent BBC poll showed that only 14 percent of Germans today had a positive view of Israel.
“I think German public opinion is actually worse than what’s shown in the polls because Germans don’t publicly state their opinion, they play it down,” said Israel’s former ambassador to Germany and the European Union, Avi Primor. Continue reading
BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday she would talk to French President Francois Hollande about building up a European communication network to avoid emails and other data passing through the United States.
Merkel said in her weekly podcast that she disapproved of companies such as Google and Facebook basing their operations in countries with low levels of data protection while being active in countries such as Germany with high data protection. Continue reading
Don’t kid yourselves. The BND, like the CIA/NSA, is also highly informed about things before they happen. Presidents and chancellors don’t learn their being spied upon from a newspaper.
In an angry exchange with Barack Obama, Angela Merkel has compared the snooping practices of the US with those of the Stasi, the ubiquitous and all-powerful secret police of the communist dictatorship in East Germany, where she grew up.
The German chancellor also told the US president that America’s National Security Agency cannot be trusted because of the volume of material it had allowed to leak to the whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to the New York Times.
Livid after learning from Der Spiegel magazine that the Americans were listening in to her personal mobile phone, Merkel confronted Obama with the accusation: “This is like the Stasi.”
The newspaper also reported that Merkel was particularly angry that, based on the disclosures, “the NSA clearly couldn’t be trusted with private information, because they let Snowden clean them out.”
Snowden is to testify on the NSA scandal to a European parliament inquiry next month, to the anger of Washington which is pressuring the EU to stop the testimony.
Full article: Merkel compared NSA to Stasi in heated encounter with Obama (The Guardian)
BERLIN: Germany’s domestic intelligence agency is planning to expand its counterintelligence operations to include friendly countries following revelations about the United States’ extensive spying programme, a senior German security official said.
The disclosure of eavesdropping by the U.S. National Security Agency, which media reports said included tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, have been a wake-up call for a state that traditionally did not spy on its allies. Continue reading
Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has a simple message for the millions young people in the eurozone who are out of work – move.
In an interview, Mrs Merkel said the high levels of youth unemployment in Europe represent a “huge crisis”, comparing the eurozone’s difficulties with post-Communist eastern Germany.
Speaking to the BBC, she said that when unemployment soared after the fall of the Berlin Wall, “many young people … only had jobs because they moved to the south.” Mrs Merkel said: “I think it’s unfair that it is the young people especially who have to pay the bill for something they didn’t do. Continue reading
It is still the hardest place to find. A glade down an overgrown path which seems like any other clearing in the endless woods of Brandenburg. But on its floor, there is a strip of concrete half the size of a tennis court, with a metal plate in the middle.
This is the launch-pad for a nuclear attack on Western Europe. Soviet nuclear missiles 20 times more powerful than Hiroshima were set up here, primed to be fired at targets including London and nuclear bases in eastern England. Continue reading
To put it bluntly, this is the result of decades and generations of Communist rule over East Germany. This was no accident. The Soviet Union had preserved, provided a safe haven for and has used Third Reich era Germans to further their own goals of combating the West. East Germans influenced by a society that never transitioned under Soviet conditions were also used against the US in the Vietnam war as well, for example. Purposefully or not, as time has since passed on, this has paved the way for such groups as the Neo Nazis to be born.
This is not to say that all of East Germany is in sync with what is portrayed in this article. However, a large portion of influence still remains.
The unification might’ve taken place, but there is a hugely stark contrast in the cultural mindset. For example, as in the West, there are many churches in the former Soviet east. Where the difference remains is that these churches in the East remain mostly empty on Sundays. Another difference is that through a breakdown of the education system under Soviet influence generations ago, the East is now playing catch-up, resulting in less high paying jobs and skilled professions.
West Germany in general has been more prosperous due to the Western powers rebuilding through such efforts as the Marshall Plan, for example. Whereas the Soviets at the time made no effort to revitalize before and while leaving occupied territories .
There’s a Jewish restaurant called Schalom in Chemnitz, in the eastern German state of Saxony.
Uwe Dziuballa, the man who runs it, has had hundreds of abusive calls since he opened in 2000. “They say things like ‘you Jew pig,’”, he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “Around April 20th (Adolf Hitler’s birthday) we get people calling saying they want to reserve 88 places (a Nazi symbol for “Heil Hitler”).
Swastikas are regularly daubed at the entrance to the restaurant or carved into doors in the toilet. Once, a severed pig’s head with the word “Jude” written on it was left in front. People urinate in the letter box. The outside lamps are frequently smashed.
Dziuballa has stopped reporting incidents to the police because it’s not worth the trouble. They didn’t even bother to investigate the pig’s head, even though it offered a pretty good clue in the form of a ready-made handwriting sample, and the number of people with access to a pig and the equipment to decapitate it is presumably limited.
“If nothing happens when you report things you think should be probed, you no longer go there with every little thing,” says Dziuballa, who is moving his establishment to smaller premises in the city. “I can’t say I’m satisfied with the lack of results.”
Dziuballa has sometimes thought about giving up, but then he rallies himself. “I’m not going to let arseholes drive me out.”
The worst aspect about Dziuballa’s story is that one can’t help thinking: What did he expect? Surely, opening a kosher restaurant in eastern Germany is asking for trouble. The police even told him as much.
In the more depopulated rural areas such as in the northeast of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany has given up the fight altogether.
The National Democratic Party (NPD), which glorifies the Third Reich, is represented in village and town councils, neo-Nazis man the voluntary fire departments, organize sports festivals and summer fetes and run youth clubs — because too few others bother anymore.
They’re even trying to influence the running of kindergartens — a further dampener to hopes that the wave of extremism that engulfed the east in the 1990s might have just been a temporary phenomenon caused by the economic upheaval that followed unification.
The case showed how blind Germany’s prodigious security apparatus had been to the threat posed by a new generation of people who had radicalized themselves by playing with guns, listening to old Nazis wallow in past glories and generally whipping themselves up into a frenzy of hatred of minorities.
Even if a number of communities have taken decisive action against neo-Nazis, in far too many places, a culture of tolerating right-wing extremism, simply looking away or playing down the threat persists among the authorities. Investigators probing the string of murders against foreigners perpetrated by the NSU neglected to pursue the possibility of a far-right motive behind the killings, instead suspecting the nine immigrant victims — a flower seller, a tailor, two grocers, a kebab shop owner, a man who was helping out in a kebab shop, a keycutter, a kiosk owner, and an Internet café manager — of having had gambling debts or links with organized crime.
Racist attitudes, they say, are widespread among ordinary people, possibly because the communist-era education system didn’t instil a sense of collective responsibility for the crimes of the Third Reich.
Analysts such as Professor Hajo Funke of Berlin’s Free University say security services aren’t being reformed rigorously enough and that the file shredding at the domestic intelligence agency reveals a culture of secrecy and self-preservation that continues to undermine its credibility — and will therefore make a bid to outlaw the NPD even more unlikely.
Full article: Why Germany Isn’t Rooting Out its Neo-Nazis (Spiegel Online)