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February 22, 2008

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 22, 2008 PAGE 13A By Toby Axelrod BERLIN (JTA)--Germany and Israel may agree that Iran poses a nuclear danger, but meetings last week in Berlin highlighted the signifi- cant differences between the leaders of the two countries on how to stop the Islamic Republic. GermanChancellor Angela Merkel touts sanctions and diplomacy, while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says all options--including the use of force--are open. "It is very important to use diplomatic means," Olmert said, but Israel will consider other options if diplomacy fails Iran is likely to be a central issue at an unprecedented bilateral Cabinet meeting between ministers of the two countries scheduled for March 17 in Jerusalem. Despite the differences over Iran, the joint Cabinet meet- ing underscores the strong links between Germany and Israel. Merkel says she wants to make the meeting an an- nual tradition. Among the German of- ficials who will accompany Merkei on next month's trip "It helps make more public to Israel is Foreign Minister the unique relationship that Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a Israel and Germany have," vociferous opponent oftheuse Berger told JTA. It "shows the of force against Iran. importance towhich Germany, Aside from Iran, Middle oneoftheleadingcountriesin East peacemaking and Ger- the European Union, accords man-Israel ties, all of which this relationship. Olmert and Merkel were "It will help strengthen scheduledtodiscusslastweek Israel's position with other in Berlin, the March meeting E.U. countries. And I think it will address youth exchange can help close the gap between programs and scientific co- the good relations at an offi- operation, cial level and the sometimes Gerd Weisskirchen, the strained perceptions in the foreign policy speaker of general public about that the Social Democratic Party relationship." parliamentary faction and Weisskirchen" said Ger- one of several legislators who mans, even if they don't en- met with Olmert during his dorse force, must understand three-day visit to Berlin, said Israel's position on its use the March meeting will be againstIran, whose president, more than just a superficial Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has display marking Israel's 60th threatened to destroy the AmosBen Gershom/GPO birthday. Jewish state. Israeli P~'me Minister hud Olmert visits Berlin's Jewish Museum on Feb. 11, on the The joint meeting is "the "This is the st~e thatwould first day of his three-day st~ in Germany. beginning of a real newbewipedoutbyA-hmadinejad," development, making the he said. poses an existential threat to The past "shapes our politi- have to look at the positive German-Israeli relationship A 2007 survey by the Ber- Israel. caloutlookinbothcountries," aspects of the past" and not much deeper than before," telsmann Foundation found Stephan Vopel, a seniorsaid Vopel, who coordinates onlyatvictimhood, Vopelsaid. hesaid, that 80 percent of Israelis expert on German-Israeli the foundation's German- "OntheGermanside, youhave Deidre Berger, the manag- believe there are situations relations for the Bertels- Israeli young leadership ex- to see that pacifism is not the ing director of the American in which the use of force is mann Foundation, said the changesandannualGerman-major lesson of the past. You Jewish Committee's Berlin necessary, while 58 percent Israel-Germany relationship Jewish dialogue, but "one can see through history that office, said the decision to of Germans disagreed. The nolongerisinformedonlybya has to be free of the past in a sometimes you do have to hold a joint Cabinet meeting survey found that 62 percent sense of guilt and responsibil- certain way." use military force to combat is "extremely positive." of GermanspolledbelieveIran ity about the Holocaust. "On the Israeli side, you a bigger evil." Amiram Barkat A group of students at the University of Oxford's Hertford College meet to discuss ideas for an Israeli cultural fesHval to balance out the university's anti-Israel sentiment. By Amiram Barkat and sometimes outrightShweiki said the week has hostility, been very popular at Oxford, OXFORD, England (JTA)-- "Our aim is to extend the with attendance exceeding It's Monday evening at the analyses of Israel beyond that typical academic events. University of Oxford's St. of a belligerent state to one "Lastyearwe had up to 130 Antony's College, and a well- thatisbuiltandexistsaccord- people at a lecture--that's dressed audience that in- ing to a racist structure," said pretty huge in Oxford stan- cludes distinguished faculty Omar Shweiki, a spokesman dards," Shweiki told JTA. members is attending the for the university's Arab Cul. Some high-ranking uni- opening of Israeli Apartheid tural Society, which helped versity officials are involved Week on campus, organize Israeli Apartheid in organizing the events. Just a few blocks away, at Week at Oxford. Avi Shlaim, a professor the University of Oxford's Theeventshereareapartof of international relations Hertford College, a group of aglobalcampaignstartedfour at Oxford, a member of the young British, American and years agotourge the interna- college's governing board Israeli students are meeting tional community to boycott and a member of the board in a small room to discuss and sanction Israel just as it ofdirectorsatOxford'sMiddle ideas for an Israeli cultural did South Africa's apartheid East Centre, was slated to festival, the first to be held in regime in the 1980s. Events chair one of the week's two this medieval City of Dream- were scheduled in Britain, the main sessions at St. Antony's ing Spires. United States, Canada, South College. Shlaim, considered At Oxford, it seems the Pal- Africa and the Palestinian- one of the prominent Israeli estinians' David-and-Goliath populated territories through "new historians,"left Israelin narrative of the Palestin- Feb. 18. the 1960s. ian-Israeli conflict has been Among the presenters at "We've always had support turned on its head. Oxford's Israeli Apartheid from senior professors in Here it is the pro-Pales- Week are Columbia Univer- OXford," Shweiki said. "We tinian activists who enjoy sity's Joseph Massad, who in feelthatingeneralOxfordhas widespread sympathy among 2005 was the fulcrum of the become more receptive toour young undergraduates and controversy over anti-Israel message as more people are open support from some of teaching at Columbia, and becoming disillusioned with the university's most senior PalestinianpoliticianMustafa the peace process." professors, while Israel sym- Barghouti, who ran for Pal- ThreeweeksagotheOxford pathizers findthemselves estinian Authority president student union sponsored a alone, fighting ignorance in 2005. debate on the issue of Israel's right to exist, assigning a vigorous American Jewish critic of Israel, Professor Norman Finkelstein, to pres- ent the case for Israel. The union eventually conceded Israel's right to exist by a slim margin. "There's something perva- sive within the university in support for the Palestinian narrative," said Emanuele Ot- tolenghi, a former lecturer in Israel studies at St. Antony's Middle East Centre and now executive director of the American Jewish Commit- tee-sponsored Transatlantic Institute in Brussels. "The Middle East appears each and every trimester on the agenda of the union's debates," Ottolenghi said, "but never, at least as far as I remember, was any topic other than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict discussed, and usually the most vocal anti-Israeli voices are invited." Reuven Ziegler, an Israeli graduate student in law at Oxford, says undergraduates at the university, who are predominantly British, tend to be much more pro-Palestinian than graduate students, many of whom come from countries where public opinion is less hostile toward Israel, such as the United States, Canada or Germany. If a student at Oxford says "Israel is nothing but a rac- and a local Chabad house, ist country committing war neither focus on Israel. crimes against Palestinians," Naomi Berlin, one of the explained Amit Kohn, an society's founders and a vis- Israeli post-doctoral student, iting undergraduate student "that wouldn'tbe considered from Tufts University in as aradical statement here. In Massachusetts, says Israel is Oxford, that's mainstream." presented at Oxford only in Kohn and Ziegler were politicized ways. among those who turned up "There's ignorance towards Monday, Feb. 11 at Hertford Israel in many American College to plan the Israeli campusesaswell,"Berlinsaid, cultural festival. "but it's not as prevalent and Over bottles of Coke and normalized as it is here in kosher hummus, the newly Oxford. And in such an intel- founded Oxford University Is- lectual atmosphere, I find this raeli Cultural Society planned inconceivable." the festival, to be held in May Adam Parker, the president to coincide with Israel's 60th of the cultural society, says he anniversary, to present Israeli hopes its activities will attract cultural life, including litera- non-Jewish students. Ulti- ture, music and food. mately, however, Israelis are Thesocietywasstartedjust the target audience, he said. three weeks ago by a handful "I want the Israeli students of Jewish students, most of in Oxford to have one place them undergraduates. While Where they could meet, speak the university boasts a flour- Hebrew and feel proud to be ishingJewishstudentssociety Israeli," Parker told JTA. 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