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Thursday, January 31, 2008

The New Nazis Speak

In this year of the 75th anniversary of Hitler's seizure of power in Germany, the new German Nazis -- "National Democratic Party of Germany," NPD -- seem well established in at least two of the provincial legislatures of the German Federal Republic: Sachsen and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (MVP). Both of these provinces were part of the former East Germany. In Sachsen, the NPD received 9.2% of the vote in the elections of 2004, and in MVP it received 7.3% in 2006. The NPD has seats in both of these legislatures and uses them with very considerable skill to advance its shrill xenophobic campaign.

The remarkable video below (in German only) was taken on January 31 in the legislature of MVP in the city of Schwerin. Its shows the NPD leader Udo Pastörs deliver a harangue against foreigners in Germany. He has it in mostly for the Turkish residents of Germany, but he also pays particular attention to Jews, their synagogues, and those who pretend to be Jews in order to benefit from German social programs. His biggest enemies, for all that, are the democratic parties (as they call themselves in this context) that form the majorities in both federal and provincial legislatures. The video should be studied not only for its particular content but also, at least as much, for the oratorical style of these new Nazis and also that of their enemies.

The democratic parties, it would seem, have done a good job at keeping these new Nazis at bay. In this video, we see Peter Ritter of the Left party, and, more tellingly, Sylvia Bretschneider of the Social Democrats (who is the president of the provincial parliament) deliver strong and effective rebukes to Pastörs and his message of hate.

[addendum, 2/11/08: The original video here, which had Pastörs speaking to the legislature in Jan. of 2008, with responses from the president of the chamber, no longer seems to be available. I have substituted another video, which has Pastörs speaking a few days later, to his party comrades, at another venue. Additional videos with this gentleman are available on YouTube.]

[addendum, 2/26/08: Here is another video. This is a revealing reportage by the German "heute-journal" ( Sept. 19, 2006) of the 2006 neo-Nazi victory in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Sorry, it's all in German.]

Thursday, January 17, 2008

All the Jews Will Be Killed

All the Jews in the world, of whatever country, will be killed when Islam rules the planet. And, as is explained in a separate sermon, not by gunshot but by torture. This cheerful proposal comes to us from Sheich Ibrahim Mudeiris, speaking on the TV station of the Palestinian Authority on May 13, 2005. There are a number of his sermons that you can find on YouTube, but this one is the nicest that I found. He has a truly beautiful singing voice. Of course I have never heard an Islamic sermon before, so I cannot tell how this once compares. But the delivery here, at least, is beautiful.

Why does the Sheich talk like that ? The sermon, I was told by an American Arab, is of course hateful. But it is the "inevitable" result of Israeli policy in Gaza.

Addendum: The New York Times of April 1, 2008, carries a revealing, front-page article about the virulent anti-Semitism of Hamas.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and the IFCJ

Among the more persistent intruders into my e-mail inbox there is a frequent missive from IFCJ, which I have taken to call IFcich but which its senders insist stands for an International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The missive is always signed by, or makes reference to, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. The prose, to this student of the sociology of religion, is reminiscent of Evangelical Christianity. The message invariably asks for money, and seems to insist, for reasons I cannot fathom, that I have a Christian duty to help Israel. For those who are not fortunate enough to be on the rabbi's e-mail list, the IFCJ also maintains a blog.

Who is Rabbi Eckstein ? A left-wing Israeli member of Knesset, Ran Cohen, quoted by the Jewish Week, seems to think that Eckstein is a convert to Judaism, but that is almost certainly incorrect. A New York Times writer thinks that Eckstein is the son of a "Chief Rabbi of Canada," but since I never heard of such a position in my 31 years of residence in that country as a practicing Jew, this latter press report, like the former, seems, well, spurious.

What does seem well established is that Rabbi Eckstein has quite a bona fide ordination from Yeshiva University but that he has angered many other orthodox rabbis by his inordinate communing with Evangelical Christians. On the other hand, Rabbi Eckstein has molded his IF organization into a major fund-raising group for Israeli charity. The funds seem to be mostly raised from Christians and the benefits seem to go mostly to Israel and needy people in Israel. And the big news now -- top item in the December 28, 2007 issue of the Jewish Week -- is that in return for a donation $45 million over the next three years from IF, the Jewish Agency has agreed to give Rabbi Eckstein a seat on its Executive Board. The Jewish News suggests that this deal means that Evangelical Christians and their agenda now have a say in the top councils of Zionism.

The Israeli writer Zev Chafets, writing in the New York Times Magazine of July 24, 2005, gave an informative and amusing account of the IF rabbi, although, to this reader, the article could have been stronger with a little less sneering.

There is also a quite informative piece by Marvin Schick about Eckstein. Schick is a free-lance columnist who contributes (apparently unpaid) advertisements of his pieces to the Jewish Week, and now also runs a blog.

Addendum, Feb. 18, 2008: David Brog has written a very informative book-length description of the Christian Evangelical support for Israel, together with an insightful analysis of the various Jewish responses to this effort.