As Europe sets its eyes on the upcoming U.S. Presidential Election, will the continent find its geopolitical clout unable to influence the calculus of Washington’s foreign policy for the region and beyond?
As a point of demarcation, it is essential to remember how the world looked when President Barak Obama took office three and a half years ago. Recalling the basic thinking the United States had about Europe at the very start of the Obama Presidency sheds light on how transatlantic ties have evolved over the course of his first term.
Justice. Through studying law I found out two things: 1) justice, all in all is simply a way to remove tensions in the community and 2) there is no way to be completely objective to the human cause, as humans are not perfect and we all make mistakes.
But we as mankind managed to create rules called “law.” This useful tool, among others, is used when one is harmed by another. The victim has the right to seek justice.
“I was killing because Jews are killing in Palestine” explained as justification for his recent killing spree in Toulouse, France. Peculiar idea about justice isn’t it?
The lack of tolerance towards Jews in Europe has been expressed in numerous ways. There have been articles decrying Israel’s unjust treatment of Palestinians and there have been discriminatory actions take by specific European governments targeting Jewish ritual practices. Nevertheless, the murder of 4 innocent civilians in France has appropriately shocked everyone’s sensibilities. The murderer was allegedly trained by al-Qaeda, but that’s really beside the point. The truly disturbing part of the story is how his motivation stemmed from a particularly perverse conception of justice that is beyond my comprehension.
To catch a glimpse of Medieval xenophobic rage, simply google ‘Russia elections Jews’ (in Russian, of course). Hundreds of blog posts, YouTube videos, forum discussions and more offer the following unlikely story: the Jews are out to destroy Russia’s peace and stability by preventing Vladimir Putin’s reelection. Moreover, you will find people saying that in conjunction with vicious liberals from the EU and US, Jews are threatening Russian prosperity by imposing detrimental values on Russian society. While this is certainly not the position of the Russian majority, the mere presence of such a group within Russian society should be extremely disconcerting.
When discussing Polish attitudes towards potential Iranian nuclear capabilities, it is important to distinguish between two components: official diplomatic responses and the nature of public opinion. Diplomatically, Poland maintains a strong relationship with Israel and, as a member of the EU, generally advocates a position in concert with other EU members such as Germany and France. Additionally, the Polish government strives to cultivate a close diplomatic relationship with the United States, and has actually been accused in the past of being overly deferential to US interests as opposed to the interests of fellow EU members. In tandem, both of these factors would indicate the Polish government has a strong interest in joining efforts to prevent Iranian nuclear development.
If Iran were to attack Israel today, the Polish Jewish community would be deeply saddened. Most of us have family and friends currently living in Israel, and have been fortunate enough to develop a strong appreciation for Israel over the course of our lives. Moreover, for my age group, this would be the first war of our lifetimes in which we felt emotionally involved, adding to the potential impact of this war.
There was a lot of talk of miracles at the Chanukah party hosted by the new Austrian Consul General in New York, Peter Brezovszky, on the second night, December 21.
The theme, of course, lends itself as we celebrate the unlikely defeat of the Romans at the hands of the Maccabees, and the oil that lasted eight nights. But on this occasion, a few other layers of history were pealed back and in the process, some tender wounds exposed along with hopes that healing may be at hand.
David Harris, AJC’s Executive Director, came to the party, which was filled to capacity with over 150 ACCESS and Austrian guests. He recalled his late father, whose work in physics as a young man in Vienna was put to an abrupt end with the Anschluss. In the 1960s, David returned to the city to help Jews in transit who were escaping the Soviet Union for safer harbors. He recalled lighting the Chanukah menorah with families who had just arrived on free soil – their first open Jewish act after hiding their faith for so many years.
Within the matrix of ancient religions and philosophies, life was seen as a part of an endless cycle of birth and death, time was like a wheel, spinning irrevocably until ancient Jews began to see time differently, as a narrative whose triumphant conclusion would come in the future.
From this insight came a new concept of men and women as individuals with unique destinies, and our hopeful belief in progress and the sense that tomorrow can be better than today. (“The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels,” Thomas Cahill, 1998)