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    Germany Tag

    Reading the accounts from Cologne about the throngs of Arab men sexually assaulting women in Cologne on New Year's Eve, my first thought went to Lara Logan who suffered a similar fate in Egypt during the "Arab Spring." Lara is continuing to suffer from the unspeakable abuse she endured and was again hospitalized early in 2015.  My second thought went to the Second Amendment. As the evil that was perpetrated on over a hundred women (in Cologne alone) sinks in, the governments in Germany and throughout the western world—reports of similar attacks in Finland are emerging—are feeling more pressure than ever to address the refugee crisis and their own policies. Der Spiegel has published a lengthy and thoughtful article entitled "Chaos and Violence: How New Year's Eve in Cologne Changed Germany."
    For some, the events finally bring to light what they have always been saying: that too many foreigners in the country bring too many problems along with them. For the others, that which happened is what they have been afraid of from the very beginning: that ugly images of ugly behavior by migrants would endanger what has been a generally positive mood in Germany with respect to the refugees.

    This story is the sum of the worst fears about the migrant crisis, and is sure to reverberate widely as more European countries seek to impose border controls. Germany's Deutsche Welle reports, String of New Year's Eve sexual assaults outrages Cologne:
    Police in the western German city of Cologne responded on Monday to outrage over a string of sexual crimes over New Year's Eve. According to police, the series of assaults in one of the city's busiest thoroughfares represented a "completely new dimension of crime." Some 90 criminal complaints, including one allegation of rape, have been brought to the Cologne police department after women said they were molested by a crowd of men who had gathered in the city's famous square between its central train station and towering Gothic cathedral. Authorities expect more victims to come forward in the next few days. City police chief Wolfgang Albers said the crowd was composed of up to 1,000 heavily intoxicated men who gave the appearance of being "Arab or North African" in background.

    Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel received a rockstar reception at her conservative party CDU's annual convention in Karlsruhe. Merkel received a nine-minute-long standing ovation from the party delegates for a speech in which she refused to put a fixed limit on migrant intake. Germany is expecting to take as many as 1.5 million migrant this year. With each migrant expected to bring 4-8 family member in the short-term, the real number for 2015 alone could be well over 7 million. However, some odd 30 party delegates dared to question Merkel's stand on mass migration -- out of roughly 3000 attending delegates. That's 99 percent approval by the party cadre for Merkel's open border policy. Even Stalin-era purges didn't East-German dictators that level of support. The British newspaper Independent reports:
    [I]n her keynote address to more than 3,000 Christian Democrat (CDU) delegates at a party congress in Karlsruhe, Ms Merkel effectively threw down the gauntlet to the rest of Europe and insisted that it share the burden in helping to solve the problem. “We face the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War,” she told the party faithful. Appealing to other EU members for help she called for solidarity, saying that Europe faced a “historic test” and insisting: “The fight for a unified Europe is worthwhile – of that I am deeply convinced.” Ms Merkel conceded that overcoming the problems facing Germany, which has accepted over a million migrants in 2015 alone, amounted to a “giant task”. But the Chancellor flatly refused to accept demands from within her own ranks to set an “upper limit” on the migrant influx, or for the installation of Berlin Wall-style fortifications and controls on Germany’s borders.

    TIME magazine named German Chancellor Angela Merkel as its Person of the Year. The New York-based magazine praised “her resilience and leadership when faced with the Syrian refugee crisis and turmoil in the European Union over its currency this year.” Angela Merkel is the first women to lead Germany and last month completed uninterrupted 10 years at the helm of Europe’s largest economy. Merkel has often been referred to as the most powerful woman in the world. In fact TIME's celebratory issue’s cover story calls her “the Chancellor of the Free World.” Since President Obama has abandoned the leadership of the Free World as a matter of principle, the top job was up for grabs anyway. The problem is only the direction Merkel is steering the Western World in face of the historic migrant crisis. To give credit where it’s due, the liberal editors at TIME Magazine had quite a tough time picking this year’s winner. German Chancellor was pitted against “Black Lives Matter” activists, Islamic State’s “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, celebrity transgender Caitlyn Jenner, and Iran’s dictator Hassan Rouhani. Republican hopeful Donald Trump was upset over the fact that judges at TIME didn’t chose him for this year’s award, and as Trump (rightly) put it, “picked a person who is ruining Germany.”

    Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban claims that Germany has struck a secret deal with Turkey to resettle 500,000 additional refugees in Europe. The revelations came just days after the EU and Turkey reached an agreement to curb the inflow of migrants. According to Prime Minister Orban, the 'secret pact', which is not part of the deal reached over the weekend, would be announced by Germany in the coming days. European leaders denied any secret deal with Ankara. However, an European Commission officials, quoted by Bloomberg, confirmed EU's intentions to bring in migrants to Europe in a "managed, open, and voluntarily process.” London-based newspaper The Independent reports:
    Germany has struck a secret pact with Turkey for the European Union to take in as many as half a million Syrians currently living in Turkish refugee camps, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has claimed. While EU officials were vociferously denying the suggestions of a secret deal with Ankara, they did not dispute that efforts are being made to manage the resettlement of Syrians in Europe more efficiently. Speaking in Budapest, Mr Orban said an EU agreement on the transfer of refugees from Turkey would be announced in Berlin on 3 December or the day after. “A nasty surprise lies in wait for Europe,” he said.

    As German Chancellor Angela Merkel doubles down on her open-border policy just days after the deadly Paris terror attacks by reiterating her government’s willingness to absorb more migrants, the political landscape in changing rapidly before her eyes. The anti-immigration party AfD that was just above 3 percent in opinion polls as recently as August, is now polling above 10 percent. Established in 2013 as a grassroots reaction to the EU’s monetary policy, the party has skyrocketed to the country's third largest political force. AfD (Alternative for Germany) has aligned itself with the anti-Islamisation movement ‘Pegida’, drawing impressive crowds to its rallies, especially in the eastern part of the country.

    A soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands has been canceled over the "concrete threat" of a planned bomb attack. Hanover, Germany is the latest site of two separate terror scares in the wake of Friday's massacres in Paris, France. French intelligence officials gave the all clear just moments ago (as reported in a Fox News live broadcast) after a fresh tip prompted law enforcement to evacuate the area following a previous false alarm. Fox News explains what happened:
    "We had concrete evidence that someone wanted to set off an explosive device in the stadium," Hannover police chief Volker Kluwe told German TV. Referring to another bomb threat about an hour beforehand that turned out to be a false alarm, Kluwe said, "After the first object turned out to be harmless, we got a tip that had to be taken seriously that an attack was being planned." Investigators found a suspicious suitcase inside or near the stadium and a second suspicious device at the city's central train station, German media and Sky News report. Police closed off part of the train station.

    Struggling under a record 181,000 migrants arriving into Germany just in October, many are calling for a limit to the highest refugee flow into Europe since World War ll. Traveling recently from Amsterdam through Germany and Austria, into Budapest, Hungary, I witnessed the mass migration in Germany in several towns. I spoke to residents, shopkeepers, tour guides, restaurateurs, and bar keepers about the immigrants in several towns I traveled. In every discussion, they expressed concern, dismay, and fear at what will happen to their country with the inflow of Muslim migrants.  In some German towns, police recommend separating Christian and Muslim immigrants. Fights regularly break out involving hundreds of immigrants at a time in the housing facilities. There are reports in German newspapers that police are overwhelmed. Most expressed frustration and a disconnect with their politicians, who claim Germany can handle the immigrants. The German people aren’t so sure about the flow of so many new foreign arrivals from such a different culture, and say their country lacks the ability to accommodate them.

    As Hungary confirmed the number of migrants heading towards Europe to be in the range of 30-35 million, Germany is still refusing to put an upper-limit to the number of migrants it can accommodate. Berlin, unwilling to change its open border policy, is urging EU member states to take in their “fair share” of migrants. Germany’s deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (Social Democrat) is calling for economic sanctions against East European countries, if they continue their opposition to Germany’s (and EU’s) generous stand on migrant intake. Back home, mainstream media is in lockstep with the political establishment. From the "Die Linke", successor of East-German communist party, to Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian-Democrats, all significant political parties back the current course. German politicians and commentators are now boasting of a “political consensus” on migration policy. Not satisfied with shutting down the debate on the political stage, German authorities are now taking on the dissent to its migration policy on internet and social media platforms. German government is pulling out all stops to ensure Facebook complies with its idea of acceptable speech. Wall Street journal reports:

    Germany’s migration crisis just got even bigger. German authorities have been constantly revising their official estimates and have now concluded that by the end of 2015 over a million migrants would be settling in the country. What mass-migration would mean for Germany and Europe in the long run remains to be seen, but media and activist are already asking locals to adjust to the change. The first casualty appears to be the Munich’s traditional Oktoberfest, 16-day annual folk-fest held every year in September. With just less than a week to go, there are calls to cancel the Oktoberfest. Germany’s leading business daily Handelsblatt ran an article titled “Boycott Oktoberfest." Technology reporter Britta Weddeling lamented the fact that government was not doing enough and “the refugees [were] not invited [to the event].” She made a blunt call, urging readers that, “If you'd travel to Munich to celebrate Bavarian cosiness and hospitality, you'd support a lie. Don’t go. Boycott Oktoberfest.” If Frau Weddeling is not happy with the fact that refugees, predominantly Muslim, are not being given free entry the beer tents in Munich, some devout Muslims are petitioning to call for a ban on “Intolerant and Anti-Islamic Event of Oktoberfest” altogether.

    In a surprise move today, Germany has announced that it is reversing current policy with regard to refugees entering the country from Austria.  While Germany continues to accept refugees, the border controls are designed to instill some order to the process.  Adam Withnall, writing for The Independent, reports:
    Germany has reintroduced border controls with Austria, its interior minister has confirmed, halting all trains and deploying 2,100 riot police to help carry out checks. Speaking at a press conference called at short notice, Thomas de Maizière said the controls were being applied with immediate effect "to bring some order to the entry of refugees". . . . . A spokesperson for an Austrian rail company said German officials had begun halting all trains trying to cross the border into Bavaria from 5pm local time (4pm BST), while the situation involving traffic going the other way remained unclear. Reporting on the unexpected move earlier and citing unnamed officials, German daily Bild said the closing of the border represented "a dramatic shift in refugee policy". Der Spiegel reported that only those with "valid travel documents" would be allowed to enter the country from Austria "until further notice".

    As the migrant crisis spirals out of control in Europe and though Saudi Arabia refuses to take in any Syrian refugees, they have offered to build 200 new mosques in Germany. The Times of India reports:
    Syria's richer Gulf neighbours have been accused of not doing their fair share in the humanitarian crisis, with Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the UAE also keeping their doors firmly shut to asylum-seekers. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which quoted a report in the Lebanese newspaper Al Diyar, Saudi Arabia would build one mosque for every 100 refugees who entered Germany in extraordinary numbers last weekend.
    Angela Merkel, who last week announced that Germany would "no longer follow the Dublin accord which stipulated refugees and asylum seekers had to be processed in the first EU member state they arrived in," is reportedly hopeful that the Syrian refugees will assimilate into German language and culture.
    Back in Germany, Angela Merkel welcomed two refugee families at a home for asylum-seekers in the Berlin suburb of Spandau on Thursday.

    A high-profile trial is currently underway in Germany. 26 year-old Ebrahim H.B. and 27 year-old Ayoub B. are facing terrorism charges after returning back from Syria, having served as ISIS combatants. Just like in U.S., the German mainstream media too is clueless about the motivations of these two jihadists. Media can’t credibly talk about “resentment” and “alienation” in case of this relatively prosperous duo, it has to contend with "personal distress" and trauma as main reasons to explain the pathological behaviour of the alleged terrorists. Ebrahim H.B., a German citizen of Tunisian-origin is charged with planning a suicide bombing in Baghdad. The media repeatedly emphasized the "quiet" and "shy" nature of the alleged ISIS-mastermind, who joined the Terrorist group just because his “planned wedding was called off”. The leading German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported [Author’s Translation]:
    On Monday, Ebrahim H.B. told the Regional High Court in Celle that he had been very upset at that time. In spring of 2014 his fiancée called off their planned wedding. “I felt extremely humiliated by that.”

    Before the ink could barely dry on the Iran Deal, Germany's Economy Minister Sigmar Garbiel flew to Tehran, making him the first leading Western figure to do so after the nuclear agreement was reached Vienna earlier this month. Gabriel who is also Germany's Vice-Chancellor met with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and other top Iranian leaders described the moods of the visit as "being with old friends." Germany's leading newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote [translation by me]:
    Germans many not have been at the center of the talks, but as go-betweens for Iran, they were considerably important. Amongst all parties working to bring about a negotiated deal, Germans enjoyed [Tehran’s] special trust.
    Germany had tremendous economic interest in ending sanction on Iran and it is not making any secrets of it. In June, just as the Iran deal was nearing its final phases, the Bavarian Chamber of Commerce (BIHK) noted in its newsletter[translation by me]:
    The German media landscape agrees on one point: lucrative deals worth billions are waiting to be made in Iran. As soon as the sanction are lifted, the run on the markets begins.
    Last week, at a press conference in Berlin, Minister Gabriel brushed aside human rights concerns in Iran, saying that the lifting of sanctions were only coupled to Iranian nuclear program and "not related to other matters." He further explained that his task as Economy Minister is to "help the German economy", pointing out that his French and Italian counterparts now heading to Tehran are doing just the same.

    Last Sunday, May 10, 2015,  I set out, together with my husband, brother and sister-in-law, on a “roots” trip to Germany. I was feeling rather ambivalent about the whole trip as I always swore to myself that I would never set foot in Germany after what happened to my family and of course to the Jewish people as a whole. To understand the background of my family history, read my family history page here.  In short, my mother had 3 older brothers who were sent on a Kindertransport to Holland for safety in 1938 after Kristallnacht, but the Nazis invaded in 1943 and shipped them to Sobibor where they were killed on the day they arrived, while my grandparents and their daughters eventually made it to safety in England. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="368"] Above: My mother’s 3 brothers who were killed in the Shoah: David, Elchanan (Herbert) and Uri HY”D Below: The 3 brothers with my mother Judith תבדל”א[/caption] The people of Michelstadt, my mother’s home town, issued a memorial book last year, and kindly invited us to come out and visit. Despite my ambivalence I felt it is important to accept their efforts to “make good” towards the Jewish community and they have been extremely gracious towards us. Following is a diary of sorts of our trip.

    Passengers appeared to have noticed nothing out of the ordinary, but Alps-crash copilot Andreas Lubitz had practiced his descent-programming skills on a previous flight. He apparently waited until the pilot stepped out of the cabin, after which Lubitz set about his nefarious business:
    Over the course of three or four minutes, Lubitz...designate[d] "100 feet" as the selected flight level. He did this several times, while the pilot was out of the cockpit. But this was just after the plane had already begun its descent. After each occasion that he chose "100 feet" he then corrected himself and entered the correct flight level. The course of the plane was not altered at all.
    So no one noticed at all. Here's how it went: LubitzProgram

    David Sheen is a name you probably haven't heard before, at least not the David Sheen who is a leading anti-Israel propagandist. Sheen, along with Max Blumenthal, travels the globe presenting a gross negative caricature of Israel worthy of 1930's cartoons. Sheen and Blumenthal were to present their anti-Israel campaign in the German Bundestag (parliament) until a left-wing German lawmaker, Gregor Gysi, objected (allegedly) on the grounds that the two were anti-Semitic. That objection reportedly almost got Sheen and Blumenthal disinvited, although they did end up giving their presentation. Sheen and Blumenthal then chased the lawmaker down the hallway. Both men got in Gysi's face, and Sheen tried to push his way into a bathroom as the lawmaker tried to shut the door. Sheen, writing at the anti-Israel, anti-Zionist Mondoweiss website, explained how it developed:
    At the end of our presentations, Max called upon those assembled to join us and confront Gregor Gysi, and this call was applauded by many in the audience. A group of us then walked to his office, prepared to talk to him politely and explain the consequences of his cavalier political ploy. However, he refused to come out of his office and meet with us, even for a minute. When he finally emerged, he strode right past us at a brisk pace, and – well, you probably saw the rest – I followed him and demanded that he acknowledge responsibility for the repercussions that I would have to face as a result of his actions.
    Sheen shot this video: Someone else filmed from a different angle, starting with an initial confrontation (which appears to be outside Gysi's office):
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