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Europe

German Press Review: A Manifesto of Hope

German papers on Monday reflected on the rebirth of the country’s Jewish population 65 years after the first Nazi pogroms and wrote that construction of Munich’s new Jewish Community Center is a “manifesto of hope.”

The attack on the housing compound in Riyadh shows America is a long way from winning its war on terrorism, most German newspaper editorials concluded on Monday.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented that the occupation of Iraq by U.S. and British troops has instead spurred new recruits to join terrorists in the Arab world and elsewhere. According to the paper, no one in the region will believe Washington has good intentions until it makes a concerted effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If yet another crisis develops in Saudi Arabia, the FAZ warned, far from resolving all the problems of the Middle East, the fall of Saddam Hussein will be seen to have sparked a chain reaction of instability.

Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung warned that Osama bin Laden and the remaining followers of Saddam Hussein are still steering the region towards chaos. But the paper also held America partially responsible for that chaos. The editors went on to comment that Washington has never recognized the fact that its one-sided support for Israel releases destructive forces in the Arab world.

In its leading editorial, the Mannheimer Morgen viewed America as increasingly on the defensive in its fight against international terrorism. It warned that the U.S. is no longer able to provide adequate protection for its allies because it has over-extended itself. The war in Iraq is tying down too many forces, the paper commented. It went on to say that the superpower is effectively fighting a war on two fronts, against al Qaeda on one and Saddam Hussein on the other. And it raised the question of how this war can ever be brought to an end. An opponent without a regular army isn’t going to raise a white flag, the paper concluded. "With whom is Washington going to negotiate a cease-fire?"

On the domestic front, many German papers commemorated the 9th of November, which Munich’s Münchner Merkur remarked has always been a fateful date for Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall 14 years ago remains an unforgettable event, it wrote. But Nov. 9, 1938 is also burned in the collective memory. On Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, Nazi mobs destroyed thousands of Jewish businesses and synagogues across Germany, killing 91 Jews and abducting some 20,000 more to prison camps. The paper praised the decision to choose this date to lay the foundation stone for Munich’s new Jewish Community Center, seeing it as a manifesto of hope. Jewish life has returned to the heart of Germany, the paper said, where for centuries it contributed to German politics, economy, culture and character.

But like several others, the Rhein-Neckar Zeitung in Heidelberg was disturbed by the necessity for a huge police presence to ensure security at the ceremony. "When does the inauguration of a Christian cultural center ever require police protection?" the paper asked. "Do you ever see 400 police guarding the opening of a new mosque?"

And the Nürnberger Nachrichten quoted a recent opinion poll which found that 79 percent of people in Germany had scarcely any prejudices against German Jews. Still, the paper viewed the results of the poll, which showed that relations have "normalized," as overly optimistic when such a huge police operation is required to protect Jewish citizens from the 20 percent of the population whose prejudices may turn violent.