Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Brother's Blood

Danya Ruttenberg posted this to Twitter tonight after hearing about the grand jury's decision tonight not to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
This is a poem I wrote in 1993:
My brother’s blood 
My brother’s blood calls from the ground
and earth will swallow him up. 
God called to Cain: Where is Abel your brother?
Cain said to God: your earth will take him,
he is like the rebels who followed Korach;
their fate is to lie in the earth,
buried alive and not dying.
God called to Cain: You are cursed from the ground which gaped open its mouth to take the blood of your brother Abel.
Cain said to God: And your people, O God, your people?  They are scattered over the face of the earth and we pursue them to their deaths.  Do not speak to me of curses.
God called to Cain: The shedder of human blood, by humans his blood will be shed.
For humans are made in the image of God.
Cain said to God: We have shattered the image like so much broken glass on the city street. 
I cradle my brother’s head in my arms
his blood has soaked into the ground and he lies still.
Where is your image O God on this earth? 
December 28, 1993

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Neonazis in Dortmund, Germany

I've now been in Germany for over a month, on a research fellowship at the Ruhr-Universität in Bochum, Germany. It's really a great opportunity, and I've been getting a lot of work done. I have been upset to find out, however, that there seems to be a fair amount of far right and Neonazi activity in this area of Germany, in particular in the city of Dortmund, which is close to Bochum.

A member of a Neonazi party who holds a seat in the Dortmund (Germany) city council has requested that the local government count the Jews in Dortmund according to districts of the city. There has been a strong pushback by both the mayor of Dortmund, other members of the city council, and the head of the central council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann.

The story has gotten some press outside of Germany too - in the Times of Israel (quoting from the German newspapers) - http://www.timesofisrael.com/germans-outraged-as-far-right-party-requests-data-on-jews/, and in Ynet - http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4592100,00.html

Neonazis want to count Jews
  • In a petition to the city of Dortmund, the Neonazi party “Die Rechte” asks about counting all Jews
  • The mayor and the central council of Jews condemn this provocation sharply
  • The city of Dortmund announces that it is giving only the “legally possible minimum response”
On Thursday, the Neonazi party “Die Rechte” sought not only marshals for a hooligan demonstration on Saturday, it also filed an official petition to the city council whose antisemitism is obvious. Dennis Giemisch, its only representative to the city council, asked how many Jews lived in Dortmund. Also, the city should break down the number according to districts. The petition was relevant “for political work” of the party.
Wording of the petition, from the website: http://www.ruhrbarone.de/dortmund-nazis-auf-judenjagd/94490
Dortmund: Nazis on a hunt after Jews
The Right: Dortmund’s strong right-wing party 
Petition for the meeting of the city council of  Dortmund on 11-13-2014  
I request to include the following petition in the agenda of the council of the city of Dortmund for 11.13.2014 and to be answered by you or the administration 
Jewish citizens in Dortmund  
1)    How many people of the Jewish faith are currently known in Dortmund (as of October 2014)? Does the city of Dortmund have official numbers in which the believers are registered? 
2)    Is it possible to divide the number of people of Jewish faith according to city districts?  
Justification:  
In order to find an appropriate way to deal with all religions, it is necessary to find out their importance in our city. For our political work the number of people of Jewish faith living in Dortmund is relevant. 
The Nazi-party Die Rechte wants to know how many and where Jews in Dortmund live. The Right council member Dennis Giemsch, a computer science student at the Technical University of Dortmund, placed the request today. 
The Nordrhein-Westfalen interior ministry will certainly read the request with interest, if it is seeking reasons to ban Die Rechte. Despite some pretense at the end of the request, a further building block for prohibition proceedings has now been laid.
Back to Süddeutsche Zeitung
That a radical right party wants to count Jewish citizens creates anxiety not only for the Jewish community. Organized discrimination against minorities is usually preceded by the registration of people according to ethnic or religious background – whether before the genocide in Rwanda, or in Germany from 1933-1945. For the murder of the European Jews, the Gestapo drew up in advance a Jewish card file on the basis of the membership lists of the Jewish communities. This happened also in the areas occupied by Germany. From Dortmund more than 2,000 Jews were murdered in concentration camps, and the community was destroyed. 
Giemsch sits in the council since Siegfried Borchardt, known as “SS-Siggi” (he would rather be called “SA-Siggi”), withdrew from the city council. 
Hypocritical Request 
Dortmund’s mayor Ullrich Sierau (SPD), commenting in a press release, calls the request “inhuman” and stands behind the Jewish community of his city: “We are pleased about every child, every woman and every man of the Jewish faith, who wants to live together with us in Dortmund.” It is good that the community today has again 3700 members. He will also turn over the request to the state police, who are concerned with politically motivated criminality. 
The Central Council of Jews [in Germany] condemned the provocation. Its distinguished chairman, Dieter Graumann, said to the Westdeutschen Allgemeinen Zeitung: “One must and can know the true motivation for this thoroughly hypocritical request: obnoxious and perfidious antisemitism.” 
Any council member can place a request before the administration. The request will be answered in the next meeting of the city council. On Twitter the press office of the city of Dortmund made it known that the Nazis have to await only the “legally possible minimum response.” 
In any case, the party is at the wrong address in the city. Religious affiliation is officially recognized in Germany (from the painful experience with National Socialism) only for those individuals who pay the church tax – that is only for members of the Catholic and major Protestant churches. Figures on religious affiliation from the census are pretty useless for minorities, the Federal Statistics Office explains. Adherents of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism have often voluntarily waived stating their religion.

Another local newspaper has a series of articles on "The Nazi Problem in Dortmund" - http://www.ruhrnachrichten.de/das+nazi-problem+in+dortmund. There's also an article in the New York Times about the election of the Neonazi Siegfried Borchardt to the Dortmund city council - http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/25/world/europe/a-neo-nazis-political-rise-exposes-a-german-citys-ethnic-tensions.html. Giemsch succeeded Borchardt after he had been in office for only about a month.