Transatlantic relations jvg

Page 1


Arts & Culture

A Mentsh

Baron Dykes

Jörg Thadeusz

Charlotte Knobloch

A British Lord in Favor of Europe

A German Protestant Goes Jewish for a Day

A Bavarian Lady and an achiever




Jewish Voice from Germany Third Year PRICE € 3 | $ 4

New Government

Vol. 9 | January 2014

Ma zel Tov 2014

Continuing Down German Path of Moderation


he New Year is getting off to a good start for Germany. The grand coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats has been elected by a broad majority of the country’s citizens. The government headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has made it its task to fulfill the wishes of Germans and of their respective party’s members. But politics isn’t a matter of picking and choosing from a wish list. It’s about striking the proper balance between what is necessary and what is possible. A responsible administration will have to give priority to the interests of the

state before the demands made by the populace, at least every once in a while. Hardly anyone is enthusiastic about taxes, much less any increases, regardless of how necessary they may be. The Greens and the Social Democrats learned that the hard way in the recent elections. The profile of the typical party member does not mirror the German population. And that’s good news! On average, German Social Democrats and Christian Conservatives alike are nearly sixty years old. By contrast, the active workforce is interested in shaping society as a whole, in making economic processes more efficient. A coalition that has brought together as large a majority as this one should not shirk from necessary structural reforms. A new bold reform Agenda 2014 would be helpful. To begin with, the energy turnaround that has already been initiated will need to be given a structure, creatively and efficiently. The nuclear power phase-out is a huge challenge for an industrial nation like Germany. The Vice-Chancellor now has the task of aligning environmental protection needs with those that the security of energy supply entails. It was a correct decision to assign Ms. Aydan Özoguz, a person with immigrant background, the position of Minister of State responsible for the integration of immigrants. To some observers, Germany seems an economic giant with small political ambitions. But that is a hollow phrase. Germany has learned a lesson from its most recent past, and is now asserting its interests in coordination with its partners instead of going into confrontational mode. Only in this way was the country able to achieve re-unification in 1990. The government and the opposition are agreed that Germany will continue to tread lightly. Going it alone would achieve nothing and would only weaken the nation. The new Federal Government will continue down its path of moderation with care and (it is, after all, a German government) efficiency. ■

Going it

alone would only weaken the nation

■ Politics

Growing Rivalry Obama vs. Putin PAGE 4

■ Economy

Ora et labora A Christian Kibbutz PAGE 16

Looted Masterpieces Justice and Reality PAGE 17

■ Religion

Jewish Jesus A Story of Repatriation PAGE 23

Credits: Lord Dykes/House of Lords, Jörg Thadeusz, dpa, JVG, public domain (3), Avda

■ Arts & Culture

Take off for the Conservative-Social Democrat coalition. Best wishes for a long and successful journey. Interview

Tillich warns new Federal Government Saxony’s Prime Minister warns the new German Federal Government against excessive spending policies which could jeopardize Germany’s economic success. Tillich is skeptical about the minimum wage codified in the coalition agreement. In an exclusive interview with JVG he also talks about Israel’s stabilizing role in the Middle East and the importance of faith in his life. “The Lord is my rock,” says Tillich. > PAGE 3

E xport

Anything to weaken the economy Lately, Germany has been criticized for its export surpluses – especially by its European neighbor France and the U.S. In his regular JVG commentary, renowned economic editor Roland Tichy ironically describes how the Germans will do anything to weaken their economic prowess – so that they may be loved again by others. The new Federal Government is set on reversing the reforms of Agenda 2010, which strengthened the German economy. > PAGE 10

Presenting Hidden Art In this issue, the Jewish Voice from Germany enters its 3rd year. At the beginning we produced an English language international version of our paper with an initial 30,000 copy run. We have since almost doubled this figure. Since last fall a German edition has appeared as an insert in the newspaper “Die Welt”. We therefore have a circulation of just about a quartermillion and more than 700,000 readers around the world. This success was made possible by the interest and loyalty of our readers and advertisers. Heartfelt thanks. We will endeavor to continue to earn your trust in the future. The JVG does not have a Jewish tunnel vision, instead we strive in the utmost to encourage and consolidate German-

Haus der Kunst, Munich

Jewish cooperation through our reporting and editorials. Our contributions should provide an impetus for constructive discussions. In this edition Rafael Seligmann proposes that the discovery of an until now hidden treasure of paintings and sketches, which were banned and eventually stolen during the Nazi time, serve as the foundation of a collection and later a corresponding dynamic museum. This would contribute to a stronger perception and awareness of the history of German art, and the Jewish contribution thereto (> Page 2). Built by the Nazis, the “Haus der Kunst” in Munich would house this collection and thus initiate a lively discussion. You are invited to join in. The editorial staff

6 | Politics

jewish voice from germany | January 2014

German-American rel ations

Increasing Transatlantic Alienation Bonanza no more: study illustrates shifting images and alliances

By Felix Lutz

Truly transatlantic:

merica was the idol and champion of freedom, human rights, entrepreneurship and the upward mobility of society in Germany. However, for German decision makers, this is becoming more and more a description of the past. A qualitative study carried out over the past five years shows a steady decline of positive evaluations of the United States – long before the news about NSA activities in Europe broke. About one hundred decision makers in both countries were interviewed many of whom had lived in the other country. Interviews lasted between one and three hours and covered personal and professional biographies, as well as the bilat-

The German Parliament building – Reichstag – wrapped by Christo and Jeanne-Claude at the suggestion of the American historian Michael Cullen


The iconic Chrysler Building in New York City, riveted in German steel from Krupp Steel Company in Essen in 1929, the only available non-corroding steel at the time


no longer believe that life is better in the United States

eral relationship of their two countries. Participants in the survey hold high positions in both administrations, are members of parliament, high ranking military officers, heads of think tanks and experts from History and International Relations departments of universities, CEOs of private companies and also influential media personalities. All of them are movers and shakers in the field of German-American relations. Criticizing policies The most stunning result of this ongoing study is the decline of America’s image and role model status among German elites. A genuine gap separates younger and older German decision makers in their attitudes and opin-

ions. Most of those over 50 years of age hold on to an overall positive image of the United States. Younger members of the German foreign policy elite, in contrast, point to U.S. foreign policy and specifically to the Iraq War, to Guantanamo and the perceived excesses of the Patriot Act. They also consider the economic mod-

el of the U.S. as failed and unjust, causing a split society. One younger German expert says: “I think that the ideal of the American dream has come apart in Germany. Germans no longer believe that life is better in the U.S. and that as an individual you have all the chances and opportunities to make it to the top – it is gone.” The positive aspects of life in America are individual freedom, its enterprise opportunities, and the examples of culture and music the country offers. The positive image surge the U.S. received after Barack Obama became president was followed by wider disappointment: Guantanamo was not closed and – except rhetorically – policies didn’t seem to change much. Since the older generation will soon leave the political stage, and a much more critical generation is about to take over responsibilities, the importance of this generational gap is tremendous. A young German explains: “ Since Guantanamo, the Americans have wasted their credit in being a champion for human rights, they lost their leadership as a nation in human rights.” American participants of the survey state that while Germany as a country certainly cannot be a role model for Americans, specific aspects of German culture and the political system can. They look at the German dual track vocational training system, the

Germany about how you take care of your budgets - there is a fiscal discipline and sense of responsibility that also other European countries could learn from.” The overall strategic outlook on world affairs differs enormously between Americans and Germans. Germans consider themselves as being much closer to the U.S. than Americans. Americans do not appear to reciprocate. Germans perceive the U.S. as their special “buddy and elder brother” in a positive way. Americans tend to see a “Germany embedded in Europe” and they expose a more ‘realist’ approach to bilateral foreign policy relations. American realism versus German ‘emotionalism’ Many American interviewees said that as long as there are no serious problems, Germany is not on the radar of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. In the present European sovereign debt crisis, Germany is expected to both safeguard the Euro and strengthen the European project. Americans tend to deal rather pragmatically with the seemingly volatile, more pacifist and independent German understanding of alliance partner-


are not committed to fight

ship (read Iraq, Libya) since German unification. A senior U.S. diplomat says about his work with Germany during the George W. Bush Administration: “We had a disappointment over time... I find it harder and harder to do professional diplomatic work with Germany.” And another former senior member of a U.S. administration: “Germany just does not carry its

weight... Germany is not doing anything of consequence. Germans are not committed to fight. The restrictions on German troops in Afghanistan are such that it is not making a significant contribution, also not financially.” Energy security and sustainability have become important topics. Germans view the U.S. as an enormous problem for climate change prevention due to energy consumption patterns and public discourse in the U.S. All of these differences can even be visualized in a neuro-semantic map – USemantics – of the language used in the interviews. The emotional core of the language used by German interviewees can be described as “emotional cooperation”. The American core, however, is more on the practical side of economics and discipline, which can be interpreted as “realist or performance based thinking”. Decline of U.S. soft power The survey suggests that American soft power vis-à-vis Germany is in an unprecedented decline. Soft power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get the outcomes you want without using or threatening force and without payment. The core problem is that America is not just seen as less attractive. Rather, key elements and features of the American political system and culture have turned negative in the perception of German elites. Many of the interviewees on both sides talk about the “Transatlantic Narrative”. The general opinion is that the narrative has shifted – though a distinct new essence of partnership has yet to transpire. The security based Cold War story gradually seems to have muted into an untold tale of “investment”-marriage. The participants in the survey convey two uncomfortable messages: Americans say that Germans need to finally live up to their economic power and responsibilities. Americans need to admit that foreign policy towards Europe and Germany also requires living up to their image. America working on her soft power – at home and abroad – therefore is not about re-romanticizing the relationship. It is about a long neglected central field of international and bilateral relations, complementing diplomacy and security policies. ■ Felix Philipp Lutz is an Associate with the Heidelberg Center for American Studies and CEO of Sophisticated Knowledge, a Boston and Berlin based think tank

Credits: Picture alliance/dpa, Javier Vidal, David Shankbone/Overand

health care system, and the successful federal employment policies. Also the environmental and renewable energy policies are considered ahead of those in the U.S. This holds true though more for Democrats than for Republicans. Among the latter, Germany’s conservative fiscal stance at home and in Europe is appreciated. A senior expert in a conservative think tank asserts: “We could learn and should learn from