Israel: A report from Eugen Solf
Back in Germany, Eugen Solf writes: I visited Israel last week, for the first time ever, and took with me a few impressions. The "major" purpose of my visit was of course a visit to Yad Vashem and to make contacts with regard to searches of resistance activities by my grandmother Johanna Solf, but one cannot help looking left and right and try to ascertain what some people think. My thoughts on the Yad Vashem visit will follow in another email.
Lebanon: since the February 14 assassination of Hariri, Syrians continue to move out of Lebanon. The military had left Beirut already in 2000 (as opposed to the rest of the country), now the last Syrian intelligence people left Beirut (they had moved in in 1987). Will the geopolitical situation in the Middle East become less stable after the Syrians move out completely? I could not find evidence of insecurity in the country with regards to them leaving.
Amcha (The National Israeli Center for Psychosocial Support of Survivors of The Holocaust and The Second Generation; see www.amcha.org, is an organisation I had not known about before my visit. With 160 psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, it takes care of survivors. It is estimated that about 1/3 of senior citizens now are Holocaust survivors, another study, to be published in the American Journal of Geriatrics will report that expected suicide rate of the beginning of the 21st century will be about 3.5 times the rate of people not being survivors. The reason for their "appearance" in the press at the occasion of the opening of the New Museum at Yad Vashem centered around a few general questions in conjunction with that museum. Should the New Museum be dedicated only to Jews' losses and sufferings or also to other minorities' losses and sufferings? Is a New Museum worth millions of dollars, whereas Amcha remains strapped for cash? After that short time in the country, I can offer no real opinion other than the idea that the cost was most certainly not borne only by the government but rather by apparently generous donations, and one should bear in mind that Yad Vashem was founded for the memory of the victims of the Shoah principally. Yad Vashem tries to put a name to every survivor, the dead have names, and the past no longer has to be hidden. More later.
Jericho: after long delays, even in the last minute, first city (of five?) to be given to (internal) control to the Palestinian Authority. Isrealis are so far not allowed in the casino, a blow to the local economy as the casino once employed (directly and indirectly) more than a thousand people. Internal control means that the Israeli Defense Force no longer operates inside (!) Jericho = amongst others freedom of movement to Ramallah!. I wonder if the price of this "freedom" will not result in an increase in the poverty line (some 50% of Palestinians now live on or below the poverty line: 2.10 USD / capita / day), a high price surely...
Wolfowitz: There was a surprisingly long public discussion about his appointment to The World Bank: no surprise about his appointment and its approval. The European press was far more critical.
RH: Regarding Jericho, etc., the Israeli Defense Force still controls the area around them- At the same time, Jewish settlements on the West Bank are being greatly expanded. The Arabs are furious; was all this done with the approval of the US? Wolfowitz is Jewish, so Israeli support for his nomination is natural. At the same time, to many others it will be seen as proof that the Jews control the international financial system.