The fight against anti-Semitism is also a fight for a democratic, value-based Europe

In May the EESC invited Raya Kalnova (European Jewish Congress), Michael Bilewicz (Centre for Research on Prejudice, University of Warsaw) and Joel Kotek (Free University of Brussels – ULB) to discuss anti-Semitism in Europe at its plenary session in May.

The EESC president, Luca Jahier started by saying:

Recent events are showing us that we must not let our guard down and think that the sixty years of peace in Europe are to be taken for granted. And although our fundamental rights are enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union, we need to defend them every single day.”

Since fear has become a constant part of Jewish people‘s lives and an alarming 38% are considering emigrating, Ms Kalnova said that the Jewish World Congress felt an increasing sense of emergency.

“To combat anti-Semitism, it is important to know what it actually is.

The intergovernmental organization International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), founded in 1998 by former Swedish Prime Minister, Göran Persson. wants to unite governments and experts to promote, advance and shape Holocaust education, research and remembrance and to uphold the Stockholm Declaration of 2000, and has become a reference for governance and civil society.

On 26 May 2016, the Plenary in Bucharest decided to

Adopt the following non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” {International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism}.

It has already been endorsed by eleven EU Member States, as well as the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. Civil society organisations also need to endorse and apply this definition and provide leadership in addressing the problem.

Mr Bilewicz referred to the results of a survey conducted in 2017 revealing that one in four people believe Jews themselves are to blame for the growing anti-Semitism. Many Europeans (50% in Poland, 37% in Austria, 32% in Germany) also believe that Jews exploit the Holocaust.

“Against all expectations, the conspiracy theory that Jews have too much power is again back in our society, in the media and sometimes even in our parliaments,”

added Mr Kotek. Hatred against Jews is more perceptible than ever.

EESC members expressed their support for the Jewish community and their commitment to fighting discrimination against minorities.

“It is our duty to fight any act of anti-Semitism in Europe,”

said Employers’ Group president Jacek Krawczyk.

“It is anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust. Eighty years after the Second World War started, it would be a serious mistake to forget this. We should all think of this when choosing who to vote for in the European elections.”

Arno Metzler, president of the Diversity Europe Group, stressed:

“We must all protest and speak up frankly and freely in our personal circles when we hear unpleasant jokes about Jewish people and the past. It is a public and also a personal obligation to defend our European values.”

From the Workers’ Group, José Antonio Moreno Díaz, president of the EESC Group on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law, said:

“Tough times are those when the evident needs to be explained. People who do not remember their history are condemned to repeat it. We must leave no room for discrimination. Tolerating intolerance will destroy democracy. Political forces must unite in isolating fascists and expelling them from their ranks.”



2014 European elections

World remembers Auschwitz survivors

French Muslims under attack

2015-2016 Religion

At the closing hours of 2016 #2 Low but also highlights


Additional reading

  1. Martin Luther “Last Words of David” (1543) a polemical work bearing the same ugly language as in “On the Jews and their Lies” (1543)
  2. Seeds from the world creating division and separation from God
  3. Objective views and not closing eyes for certain sayings
  4. Apocalyptic Extremism: No Longer a Laughing Matter
  5. Denial. . . . . . A Film
  6. If you’re going to be a hater, make sure you’ve done your homework.
  7. The Rise of Anti-Seminism
  8. 2015 – January 27 – 70 years ago Not an end yet to genocide
  9. Religious Practices around the world
  10. Numbers 10:10 Make Your Rejoicing Heard
  11. 25 Orthodox rabbis issued a statement on Christianity
  12. Quiz questions, views, left- and right-wing anti-Semitism
  13. French rabbis of the suburbs confront anti-Semitism
  14. The American clouds of Anti-Semitism
  15. a Call to stop the growing anti-Semitism
  16. Donald Trump after declining numbers of people victimised for their religion managed to increase the numbers again
  17. Incidents of hate have become commonplace in the U.S.A. anno 2017
  18. 2018 January’s issue of The Christadelphian
  19. Historian Deborah Lipstadt Assesses the New Anti-Semitism
  20. Growing anti-Semitism possible sign of certain times
  21. Signs of the times – “An object of scorn and ridicule”
  22. Dr. Miller looking at Jews in France
  23. Anti-Semitic pressure driving Jews out of Europe
  24. Jews In France Ponder Whether To Stay Or To Leave
  25. Anti-Semitism in Austria 2018 study results
  26. Many members of Jewish community wondering if they are still welcome in Poland
  27. Is it time for UK Jews to pack the bags?
  28. The danger of having less than 25 000 Jews in Belgium
  29. This fighting world, Zionism and Israel #6
  30. A convinced voice to debunk false allegations
  31. In Every Generation: The Return of Anti-Semitism – Pesah Day 1, 5779
  32. ….a powerful way to put the universe on notice….
  33. Trusting present youngsters who are not necessary evil
  34. Month of freedom and liberty with Independence Day or Deceived day
  35. Trump’s rhetoric is infusing a culture of Anti-Semitism


Further related

  1. how “anti-Semitism” is used
  2. Rising anti-Semitism in the U.S., on campus and elsewhere
  3. Why isn’t anti-Semitism as reviled as “Islamophobia” or anti-black racism?
  4. The growing anti-Semitism of France
  5. Why isn’t anti-Semitism as reviled as “Islamophobia” or anti-black racism?
  6. On anti-Semitism, anti-Islam and fictitious alliances in U.S.
  7. Italian rabbis accuse biblical conference of fueling anti-Judaism
  8. Macron declares that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism
  9. Weaponisation of Language To Deceive
  10. The Secret Annexe
  11. Wholesale Segregation of Jews Had Been Planned by German Monarchists – Failure of plot following relevations saves Jewish community | Friday May 14, 1926 – JTA
  12. The Plot to Keep Jeremy Corbyn Out of Power – by Jonathan Cook
  13. The Plot to Keep Jeremy Corbyn Out of Power
  14. Gordon Brown’s Selective Anti-racism
  15. Anti-Semite ‘Comedian’ Dieudonné Likely to do Community Service after Gaol Sentence for Tax Fraud.
  16. freedom of speech under attack
  17. the reason the holocaust narrative must be maintained
  18. A Quest
  19. Forget Putin; Trump isn’t a Russian Spy. He Acts as Israel’s Manchurian Candidate
  20. Donald Trump – racist still not the problem
  21. We Debate the Use of the Term Concentration Camps As People Are Imprisoned and Children Die
  22. Video shows far-right extremist setting himself on fire while firebombing U.K. synagogue
  23. “Was the principal of one of Palm Beach County’s largest public schools suggesting that the Holocaust was a belief rather than an actual event?”
  24. Is Anti-Zionism the same as Anti-Semitism?
  25. MLST NEWS:Palestinian ambassador urges Jeremy Corbyn not to ‘give in’ over anti-Semitism code
Posted in B4Peace, News and Politics, Religion, World | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

United in an open society relying not on command and control but on freedom

Danger of one person having everything in his hands

When looking at what is going on (or going wrong) in the United States I cannot prevent myself from making a few remarks for the success of a unitary state.

The present American president may be convinced that he can govern and control the whole world, but we should be careful not to fall for his mucous rhetoric.

At the European continent we should be well aware of the dangers when the U.S.A. would arrange more trade agreements with Great Britain, certain undesired goods coming into Europe by the Republic of Ireland – the reason why there should be a hard border in case Brexit becomes a reality.

Whatever may go on in the United States of America here in Europe we should all try to get one united union. It shall demand a belief in a majority willing to work for a strong EU. Only a strong EU can succeed against a backdrop of global competition, uncertainty and disruption, and provide European citizens with security and wellbeing. A strong EU is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable and resilient.

Importance of having one strong union

At the moment, it is a pity not more citizens see the importance of having all those small countries working together to form one “nation of nations and/or federations”. The leaders of the countries should work harder to get their people come to believe in that United Europe.
People should have come to understand and believe that the EU is stronger the more united it is – in its diversity. Though lots of people may look at grater unions where leaders try to get rid of such diversity, but it is just the diversity and the multicultural society which creates more opportunities and makes a nation more productive and creative. Unity brings about internal efficiency and external influence. It is a matter of common objectives, decisions and action, to tackle issues that cannot be managed through national measures alone.

The more united the different countries in the European Union may be how stronger the EU may be – in its diversity. Unity brings about internal efficiency and external influence. It is a matter of common objectives, decisions and action, to tackle issues that cannot be managed through national measures alone.

A growing population in a growing nation

Whilst in America some may shout immigrants may be a danger to the country, people should come to see some could also be very useful to take in the place of the ageing population and to do works locals do not want to do.

The attractiveness to others form countries far away, does not mean there is a weakness in our states. When making sure that there are good rules and regulations to have people entering the nation everything can and should stay in control. But all countries should share in the same way an intake of immigrants. And all countries should provide equal right for all citizens and enabling all citizens to enjoy the European way of life. To make this possible, the EU needs to be a good place to do business.

Competitive business environment

Therefore we have to call for a competitive business environment that encourages enterprises to innovate, invest and trade. This enables businesses to thrive and provide citizens with jobs, goods and services. It also enables the generation of public revenue for education, healthcare and social systems, as well as for internal and external security. Economic and social progress thus go hand in hand.

While providing businesses with larger markets and better access to resources, the going hand in hand of the many countries benefits citizens with a wider choice of goods and services and the possibility to travel, study and work abroad. We therefore should call for a fully functioning single market and rules-based foreign trade. and that open economy must be accompanied by an open society.

Populism, authoritarianism and xenophobia

We must be aware of the dangerous evolution and the virus which does not seem to affect the U.S.A. only. Great concern must there be about populistic, authoritarian and xenophobic movements that work against the principles of an open society built on the common core values of the EU.

There should never be given the opportunity that only one person has everything to say and can use everybody else as a puppet on a string. Our society should be able to rely on dialogue and good governance. It implies that decision-making is based on democracy, full compliance with the rule of law, subsidiarity principle, transparency, and the involvement of civil society. Vibrant civil society and social dialogue are vital guarantees of a progressive and cohesive society.

An open society relying on freedom and responsibility, not on command and control.

As citizens we should be able to bring out our votes and should find politicians listening to our wishes. We also should see that those in charge do everything to call for enabling and encouraging policies that stimulate creativity, innovation, ongoing learning, agility and entrepreneurial spirit throughout society. An open society relies on freedom and responsibility, not on command and control.

The people at the top of the European Union should and at the moment do respect diversity and believe it is a great asset for the EU. This applies to the richness of cultures and natural features across countries. It also applies to diversity in terms of gender, disability, race, sexual orientation, age, religion and beliefs or any other personal characteristic. They are also confident that openness increases stability and security – both in the economy and society, due to stronger interdependence and interaction. Instead of fences, the EU therefore needs connecting bridges. In conclusion, we believe that an open economy and society are beneficial for all and would generate new confidence in the EU. This is how the positive spiral of an open, united and strong EU can and should continue.

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Education has key role in building the democratic and rule of law culture

Education, both formal and non-formal, has a key role in building the democratic and rule of law culture. The diversity of political cultures in Europe makes the task more difficult. However, there are successful historical examples in which democratic values are taught, spread and consolidated.

In the long term, the best safeguard against democracy and rule of law backslides is an active, educated and involved citizenship.

Liberal democracy as defined in a former EESC opinion[1] and the rule of law should be in the hearts and minds of every European citizen and the EU should lead the way forward towards this goal, for example by encouraging the mainstreaming of these topics in school and higher education curricula, and by promoting academic and professional exchanges between citizens and CSOs active in these areas.

The EESC calls on the European Commission to propose an ambitious communication, education and citizen-awareness strategy on fundamental rights, the rule of law and democracy.

[1]             SOC/605 – Resilient democracy through a strong and diverse civil society

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Further strengthening the Rule of Law within the Union. State of play and possible next steps

The EESC welcomes the Commission’s Communication on Further Strengthening the Rule of Law within the Union. It regrets that the short reflection period has not allowed for deeper consultation. The EESC recalls the essential watchdog role played by the civil society, which should be further supported. It reiterates its support for an EU mechanism to monitor rule of law and fundamental rights and proposes to establish an EU stakeholders Forum to debate solutions. The EESC also calls on the Commission to adopt a Strategy on communication, education and citizen awareness concerning these key issues.    

The situation regarding respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law is very concerning throughout the EU, especially as it has had to trigger Article 7 TEU in some cases. Therefore, the present Commission Communication is launching a reflection on how the state of the rule of law in the EU could be improved.

The Communication recalls the importance of the rule of law as a founding value of the European Union, which is the basis of the democratic system and a prerequisite for the protection of fundamental rights. The rule of law includes, among other things, principles such as legality, implying a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws; legal certainty; prohibiting the arbitrary exercise of executive power; effective judicial protection by independent and impartial courts, effective judicial review, including respect for fundamental rights; separation of powers; and equality before the law.

The Commission sets out three pillars for an effective enforcement of the rule of law in the Union:

  1. Promotion: Building knowledge and a common Rule of Law culture;
  2. Prevention: Cooperation and support to strengthen the Rule of Law at national level; and
  3. Response: Enforcement at Union level when national mechanisms falter.

More precisely, the Commission insists on the need to promote rule of law standards, to recognise warning signs, to deepen a Member State’s specific knowledge, to improve the common capacity to react in case of escalation, and to address shortcomings in the long term through structural reforms.

The EESC welcomes the consultation as it recognises the importance of the recent rule of law challenges in the EU. The number of such challenges has increased in recent years, indicating the risk of a possible full-blown crisis in the rule of law and democracy, especially in some Member States. This crisis should be fully acknowledged and an appropriate response put in place. This includes a bold restatement of the EU values and solid instruments to prevent and correct any further deterioration of the rule of law.

It is important to recall that the European Union is not only a common market; it is a union based on common values, as stated in Article 2 of the Treaty. Furthermore, it recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. These values, on which the European Union is founded, form the basis of integration and are part of the European identity. As well as being criteria for accession, they must be respected in practice by the Member States, thereafter.

The rule of law exists in an interdependent, inseparable, triangular relationship with fundamental rights and democracy. Only by guaranteeing these three values in conjunction with each other is it possible to prevent the abuse of State power. The protection of fundamental rights is a pillar that should be further developed, through the ratification of all relevant instruments (including UN conventions and the European Convention on Human Rights), more robust cooperation between EU institutions and the enhancement of support for grassroot and watchdog organisations across Europe.

We as citizens of the Union should demand that all Member States should satisfy the Copenhagen Criteria and that everywhere in the Union every person shall have the rights to speak and think whatever he wants, without bringing harm to others.
At the moment we can see that several EU institutions do not have sufficiently robust and well-tailored tools at their disposal capable of protecting against threats currently posed to the rule of law, fundamental rights and pluralist democracy in the Member States.

The Union should make more work that existing instruments would have a better impact on the drivers of these challenges. The most severe challenges are present in some Member States, where powerful political actors have turned against the independence of the judiciary, and against institutions and organisations which compose and uphold the pluralist democratic system. The Communication does not consider sufficiently this essential aspect, preferring a perspective in which institutions – Parliaments, governments and ministries, constitutional courts, professional bodies – are separated from political and electoral competition. This “hands off” approach to party politics and elections prevents any explanation of why powerful actors work against the rule of law and democracy and why they seem at the same time popular and unstoppable. The political, cultural and sociological aspects of the rule of law challenges affecting democracies are an essential area which has been ignored in the EU’s analysis and response so far. This partly explains the limitations of the current approach and tools – including the Article 7(1) procedure. Through its connection with civil society in its entirety, including the social partners, the EESC is particularly well placed to offer a space for a better analysis, debate and response to these political, sociological and cultural aspects of challenges to democracy and the rule of law.

It is good to notice that the Commission has moved in the recent years towards building up complementary and cumulative mechanisms to fill the gap between no action and last-resort action. Yet, they seem insufficient for the current challenges – concerted actions for power-grabbing across institutions, including in the judiciary, which have, if not electoral constituencies, strong support within party organisations and party clienteles. Not even the consolidated democracies are safe from creeping authoritarianism and erosion of the rule of law. Security concerns are increasingly used to justify the questioning or suspension of democratic safeguards. Some governments make the work of several frontline CSOs more difficult instead of proposing an enabling space for their activities. It is therefore essential that the EU should take a more proactive and preventive approach.

The independent national courts are the bulwark ensuring that citizens can count on their EU rights being enforced, that European business can do cross-border trade without the concern that legal contracts are not enforced in an impartial and independent manner, and that workers working in a neighbouring country can have their rights enforced, and that CSOs can operate freely across borders, without foreign solidarity funding being taxed discriminatorily.
With good reason CSOs, social partners and foreign investor councils have all expressed concern to the EESC about the deterioration of the rule of law, and its serious economic impact.

The EESC notes the shortcomings of current tools available to the EU institutions to protect Article 2 values. Infringement procedures tend to be too narrow in their focus to prevent or correct concerted attacks on the rule of law. Second, it has proven extremely difficult to marshal sufficient political will to activate the procedure in Article 7 of the TEU.

As regards the 2014 European Commission Communication “A new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law”[1], although it is easier to activate than Article 7, its effectiveness is questionable when faced with governments unwilling to cooperate. Furthermore, the thresholds required to activate it are too high and too late. The EESC recommends improving the rule of law framework including by defining clearer benchmarks, indicators and deadlines in order to better assess the concerned authorities’ response and the EU’s accompanying measures.

[1]             European Commission, Communication on A new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law, 11 March 2014


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Skills and competences acquired in civil society organisations – how to recognise and value them in the labour market

On 20 December 2012, the Council of the European Union issued to Member States Recommendation 2012/C 398/01 “on the validation of non-formal and informal learning” (definitions of the terms in the title are set out in the annex to that recommendation). The main task for Member States was to put in place, by the end of 2018, appropriate legal and organisational arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning.

In Poland, not only have legal arrangements been created, but on the basis of the Act of 22 December 2015 on the Integrated Qualifications System (IQS), a process of entering qualifications into that system is also being carried out. The Educational Research Institute overseen by the Minister of National Education is responsible for this. Employers and civil society organisations are the main stakeholders registering qualifications in the system. For years, they have been conducting training and examinations on specific competences. However, there is also some initial practical experience of cooperation with NGO volunteer organisations, as qualifications obtained through voluntary activities in civil society organisations can also be entered in the system.

2019 is the year for the European Commission to review past experience and explore new solutions. Therefore, the EESC’s Labour Market Observatory (LMO) and the Polish Public Interest Committee have decided to join this process together, acknowledging that the recognition and crediting of qualifications acquired while working in civil society organisations, and through the different types of training and courses organised by them, should be strongly promoted.

Wednesday 10 July 2019 at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland; Al. Ujazdowskie 1/3, Warsaw there shall be a “Joint conference of the Labour Market Observatory of the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee for Public Benefit of Poland:

“Skills and competences acquired in civil society organisations
– how to recognise and value them in the labour market”

The aim of the conference is to:

  • exchange views on the functioning of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and national qualifications framework, with particular reference to the Integrated Qualification System in Poland for qualifications acquired through non-formal and informal learning, including the role of civil society organisations in developing a qualifications register;
  • look for new solutions to allow those working in civil society organisations (especially young people, without work experience), and the beneficiaries of the different types of training and courses they organise, to successfully demonstrate the skills and experience they have acquired on the labour market, using the Polish system of validating skills obtained through non-formal and informal learning. The system for validating qualifications acquired through informal and non-formal learning implemented in Poland has a key role to play here;
  • have direct dialogue and exchange of experience between the Polish participants in the validation system and representatives of the European institutions at the crucial moment when recommendations for the coming years are being drafted;
  • enable participants to get to know the most interesting practices from other countries of the European Union;
  • assess the strengths and drawbacks of the EUROPASS CV, particularly in terms of people with qualifications acquired through non-formal and informal learning;
  • exchange information and views on current trends in recruitment of workers in national labour markets and the importance of qualifications acquired through non-formal and informal learning.

I have the honour to be invited, but the next day I have to be present at another conference in Brussels.
An other issue is my Sheltie which I can not leave without someone in the house for so many hours.

I am fully aware that discussions on the above mentioned topic are very timely, as this year, the European Commission is reviewing the way Member States have implemented the Council Recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning and is seeking for good practices and new possibilities to explore.
Therefore it would be interesting to see how the skills and competencies acquired by people who are active in civil society organisations (such as NGOs, trade unions, employers organisations) can contribute to our system. The question is how these people (especially young people) can demonstrate these skills and experience and be easier and better included on the labour market.

Piotr Gliński Sejm 2015.JPG

Piotr Tadeusz Gliński: First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage in the Law and Justice government.

The event will also focus on the active role of civil society organisations as training institutions – as they offer various types of training not only for their members but also for people from outside who are interested in gaining very specific qualifications.

In any case the organisation may count on outstanding speakers: Prof. Piotr Gliński – the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland will be the keynote speaker. Experts and representatives from the European Commission Polish public institutions, the EU agency CEDEFOP, Polish universities, EU-level organisations as well as Polish CSOs and EESC members will take the floor during three thematic sessions. The debate with participants is foreseen after their presentations.

The next case I am going to look at and discuss are the socio-economic causes of the rise of populism in suburban and rural areas and why populism seems to have taken root in these areas. We have to make time to explore the approach that Civil Society should take when facing this issue and analyse possible best practices.

It is important for the EESC as an EU consultative body comprising 350 members representing employers, workers and various interests to have its institutionalised say on draft EU legislation and to help strengthen the EU’s democratic legitimacy and effectiveness by enabling civil society organisations (CSOs) to express their views at European level.

In this world of “qualifications” and “certificates” we should be careful not to forget the qualification a person can receive when doing some work. At the moment we have come into a business world where too many firms or companies demand proofs of qualifications by “degrees” of official school certificates. The “Paper” has become more important than the real qualifications.
In previous centuries people could grow in a function and could climb up in a company from an unschooled person to become “foreman” , “overseer” or even climb up from supervisor to manager or director of the company. Those times are gone, but we should question if it would not be better to have some master workshops again.

We have come in a time where the workers seem to be less protected and where there is much more workload, whilst trade unions seem to have less to say or are not so popular any more. In a lot of places it is all about about tasks, deadlines, resources and limited funds. Lots of people take work to their home. for many it seems normal and taking home work to do in the evening has for many become part and parcel of the expectation linked to modern careers.

At the same time certain political figures try to make the local population afraid for people from outside their country. With their populism they create a dangerous situation which, in my eyes can undermine the safety of a lot of people but also of the country itself.

For that undermining of a solidarity feeling and a feeling of a united nation we do need organisations which bring social protection and which can opt as mediator between the different parties involved.

All over the European Union we should open the eyes of the citizens that we need all workforce and that we should give everybody equal opportunities to the labour market across the whole of Europe. At the same time we should protect all those working in one country, making sure that nobody in that country works under certain wages and would have to work in bad conditions.

At the same time we have to think about why it is so many youngsters do not finish their courses and end up without a qualification. The level of knowledge diminished also a lot the last few years and lots of students are not able to succeed in the first year of university. Also a lot of those going for a job do not manage to stay long enough in that particular job, after the company had invested money and time in their preparation for the job.

We seriously have to think about ways for guiding and helping young people, without work experience, to make them strong to tackle a job but also to give them a feeling they can do something and that they are respected for what they do.



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Posted in Announcement, Dagboek = Diary, Economy, Education, News and Politics, Upbringing and Education, Welfare and Health, World | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donald Trump his America

The present president of the United States of America as created himself a “New America” which is not any more for others looking for a free world and a good place to live. Donald Trump who considers himself the best choice for America and the best president the United States ever had, claims nationalism for himself.

He is living in a state where there has been Confederate nationalism of the Civil War and the nationalism of the Union. For me, living in Europe his nationalism resembles more the nationalism Germany brought into the West European continent. In the first half of the 20th century europe also got its share of a bugaboo who was going to make Europe great and a nation only for the right people. At first that Austrian born (Jewish) man his a failed coup in Munich gave him time in prison to work out his political manifesto Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) and to go against his own people.  But this new sort dictator in the U.S.A. did not need some time to work out such a manifesto. He is prepared to work at the spur of the moment. His anti-semitism is well hidden but his anti-communism he uses as his stick to beat all who has some social program. That is one of the main problems Bernie Sanders was facing in the previous run for presidency and what still could be a big problem for him getting further this time.

The present president of that huge nations seems to forget how the nationality in his habitat was created by explorers and immigrants and refugees, who, in streaming hitherward from other parts of the world, mingled their energies, instead of remaining separate from one another. From all across the European continent, people had enough of the pressure of their governments and churches. They were so fed up with the oppressing people in charge that they were willing to go for an unseen adventure, going to unknown pastures.  And, in doing so, going to that “New World” they created the first truly cosmopolitan or universal culture, or, at least, the first since Roman times. It is a shame for what so many did to the Native Americans, going as far to start believing they are the native Americans.

Today, Donald Trump and with him many others, have forgotten the origin of their nation. They do not seem to understand that until Obama America’s nationality was a “nationality of nations,” as the Jacksonians liked to say.

Instead of seeing how they are blessed with a multicultural society, enjoying the richness of it, several Americans want to destroy that beautiful garden to return to the very old structures of Old Europe, from the time before their great ancestors.Or, as we moderns might say, it was a flower of the multicultural. And it spoke to the nations, as no other nationality could do.

Those who had learned from the French Revolution and did everything to get a nation where everybody could be free, are long ago buried and with them also that idea of freedom. Trump switched the button of the enlightened time to have darkness blinding those falling for his “great words”. With Twitter Donald Trump has his beloved gadget to sent messages very fast into the world wide ether. In any case his will to control everything finds satisfaction in all of us, wondering what he is going to do next to have our hearts pump harder and faster, bringing this world minute after minute in a new “red alert” phase.

In any case we may well believe Donald Trump was able to bring a revolution over the U.S.A., getting many in his mouse-trap. He managed to bring a cascade of unexpected events,  changes in the norms and attitudes expressed in media and popular culture. We in Europe, in the Republican Party and the Democratic Party do not only see two but four to six parties, whose personalities even do not mind publicly fighting against each other.

To be honest, I am really curious for what Trump is going to show on the Parade of the 4th July. Yesterday, seeing some preparations and tanks (on the Flemish television) I got the impression Trump has learned from the Soviet Union and wants to bring a much bigger parade than the Soviets ever brought.

He is firmly convinced that he can transcend that old Soviet Union with power (and bluff poker).

Wait and see (I would think).

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2016 in review Arts

From the forgotten to publish material

Vincent van Gogh, Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen, 1884 – 1885

14 years after the paintings View of the Sea at Scheveningen, painted in 1882, and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen, painted in 1884 by Vincent van Gogh, Italian police have found the two Van Gogh paintings wrapped in cloth in a safe in a house in the picturesque seaside town of Castellammare di Stabia, near Pompeii.

The works were among assets worth millions of euros seized from a one of the biggest mafia clans in the Scampia area of northern Naples.
Dutch and Italian ministers were overjoyed by the news, and praised Italian investigators.

Axel Ruger, director of Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum, stands next to the painting Seascape at Scheveningen (30 Sept)Seascape at Scheveningen was one of only two seascapes Van Gogh painted while he lived in the Netherlands.

Despite a 14-year journey, the two paintings appear to be in fairly good condition. Both lacked their frames and showed signs of some damage. The painting Seascape at Scheveningen (1882) has the paint in the bottom left corner broken away on a surface of circa 5 x 2 cm.

Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen is a small canvas that Van Gogh painted for his mother in early 1884. It shows the church of the Reformed Church community in the Brabant village of Nuenen, Van Gogh’s father being its Minister. In 1885, after his father’s death, Van Gogh reworked the painting and added the churchgoers in the foreground, among them a few women in shawls worn in times of mourning. This may be a reference to his father’s death. The strong biographical undertones make this a work of great emotional value. The museum collection does not include any other painting depicting the church. Moreover, it is the only painting in the Van Gogh Museum collection still in its original stretcher frame. This frame is covered in splashes of paint because Van Gogh probably cleaned his brushes on it.

Neither work was insured at the time, and both were on loan to the Van Gogh museum from the Dutch government. Two Dutch citizens were jailed for theft but always maintained their innocence.

Earlier in 2016, four paintings out of a haul of 24 stolen from a Dutch gallery in 2005 were recovered in Ukraine.

The Revenant 2015 film poster.jpgThe Revenant’, about the American frontiersman and fur trapper who became a folk hero after surviving a bear attack and then travelling hundreds of miles alone to safety. as a American semi-biographical epic Western film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu was the big winner in Golden Globes followed by the Hungarian drama film directed by László Nemes “Son of Saul,” which was was funded in part by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and had won the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix. The Revenant won three Golden Globe Awards and five BAFTA Awards. At the 88th Academy Awards, the film received 12 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (Hardy), winning Best Director (Iñárritu), Best Actor (DiCaprio), and Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki). DiCaprio also won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor.

Being more techniques, it was a tool of art for several years on stage as well as in films. But on July 22 the final videocassette recorder was manufactured by the Japanese company Funai.

Vilmos Zsigmond KVIFF.jpg

Vilmos Zsigmond

On January 1 the Hungarian-American cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, one of the leading figures in the American New Wave movement, died. (b. 1930) When Soviet armed forces arrived to crush the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Zsigmond and another film student, Laszlo Kovacs, clandestinely filmed the carnage and then smuggled the film into Austria before immigrating (1957) to the United States.  He won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind as well as the BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography for The Deer Hunter. He collected additional Oscar nominations for his work on Mark Rydell’s The River (1984) and Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia (2006). He won an Emmy Award for his photography for the HBO TV movie Stalin (1992), and he received an Emmy nomination for the TV miniseries The Mists of Avalon (2001). The American Society of Cinematographers honoured him in 1998 with its lifetime achievement award, and a 2008 documentary, No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos, took as its subject the friendship and artistry of Kovacs and Zsigmond.

The world also lost the son of a steel manufacturer, who majored in mathematics at the Collège de Saint-Étienne, where he also took music lessons. He is best known from what he learned by the composer and organist Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory and his training in 12-tone technique by René Leibowitz, who had been a student of Arnold Schoenberg, the father of 12-tone music. The man who  created and directed the experimental Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM), which was housed in the Pompidou Centre in Paris, became a “must to know” and giving the world one of the world’s most important contemporary music ensembles at that time. Nobody could get around or without Boulez in his education. Boulez became also one of the most prominent conductors of his generation. In a career lasting more than sixty years he held the positions of chief conductor of the New York Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain and principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra. He also was conductor at the the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic,

First written as a six-movement composition between 1953 and 1954, published in that form in the latter year, “imprimée pour le festival de musique, 1954, Donaueschingen“, having it in a  revised order of these movements and interpolated three newly composed ones it got performed in 1955 as a music piece on the three short poems by Char with the title “Le Marteau sans maître“(The Hammer Without a Master) that influenced many artists. I and others, like Maurice Béjart used is also for ballet.
Pli selon pli (Fold by fold) was Boulez’s longest work that found its way also in the ballet world. It carries the subtitle Portrait de Mallarmé (Portrait of Mallarmé) and  is scored for a solo soprano and orchestra and uses the texts of three sonnets of French symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé and single lines from two other of his poems. In line with L’après-midi d’un faune (1876) and Trois poèmes de Mallarmé (1913) and Chansons bas de Stéphane Mallarmé (Darius Milhaud 1917) in the 1970 that poetry and those musical pieces were the works to build on and create many variations. As young dancers Béjart stimulated us to listen to those works of poetry and “musical magic”. And with those works the master choreographer could fill the 2,000 seats in the Théâtre Cirque Royal in Brussels.

Players with words, you could also consider Ronald Balfour Corbett, better known as one of The Two Ronnies with his associate Ronnie Barker in the BBC television comedy sketch show who managed to bring laughter in the house. (A third Ronnie in the production was Ronnie Hazlehurst who took care of the main theme music for the show.)
On 31 March 2016, Corbett died at the age of 85, at Shirley Oaks Hospital in Shirley, London, surrounded by his family.
It was nice to see some sketches again which proved to be masterly timed and therefore still funny and ‘working’.

Mach 4, 2017


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The Conquest of Normandy & The Red Army’s Advance to Warsaw, June-July 1944.

Originally posted on hungarywolf:
After D-Day – The Battle for Normandy: The landings of 6th June were, of course, ‘just’ the beginning of the campaign to liberate Western Europe from the occupation of the Third Reich. Having got into the…

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“If Perestroika Fails…”: The Last Summer of the Cold War – June-July 1991.

To remember

  • embarked on Perestroika > President Gorbachev constructive actions => awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1990
  • June 1991 Soviet troops completed withdrawal from Hungary + Czechoslovakia = last Soviet tanks left => Czechs + Hungarians cheered
  • Comecon, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance + Warsaw Pact = dissolved
  • START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) objective reduction of long-range strategic weapons + CFE (Conventional Forces in Europe) negotiations remained as unfinished business
  • 1991 Vienna final text installed
  • 31 July 2 presidents signed START 1 in Moscow => 2 superpowers agreed to reduce nuclear warheads + bombs to below nine thousand, including 1,500 delivery vehicles. => new sequence of strategic arms reduction agreements.
  • After the START 1 summit in Moscow on 31 July, George Bush kept his promise to visit Ukraine, and went on to Kiev.
  • Ukrainians looking for US support in attempt to break away from Moscow + declare independence.


President Gorbachev had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, but gave his acceptance speech in Oslo on 5 June 1991, twenty-five years ago. In it he warned that, if perestroika fails, the prospect of entering a new peaceful period of history will vanish, at least for the foreseeable future. The message was received, but not acted upon.  Gorbachev had embarked on perestroika; it was up to him and his ministers to see that it did not fail. Outside the Soviet Union, his Peace Prize was acclaimed, and the consequences of his constructive actions were apparent everywhere. In June 1991 Soviet troops completed their withdrawal from Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The Czechs and Hungarians cheered as the last Soviet tanks left. At the same time, both Comecon, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact were formally dissolved.

Two sets of arms negotiations remained as unfinished business between…

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Commemorating the Normandy Landings

To remember

  • Normandy > Operation Overlord > to assault, simultaneously, beaches on the Normandy coast <= better shelter for shipping + less heavily defended than other possible beach areas along Channel coast => foothold gained on the Continent of Europe
  • 130,000 personnel and 20,000 vehicles, all of which were to be landed on the first three tides. …
  • German intelligence confused by practice of dropping dummy parachutists
  • French Resistance ordered to ready itself for invasion by BBC broadcast on 1 June > first line of poem Autumn Song by Paul Verlaine, which went Les sanglots longs des violons de l’automme (‘The long sobs of the autumn violins’).
  • Hans Speidel > Twelfth SS Hitler Youth Panzer Division to counter-attack at Caen
  • by far the greatest concentration of German fire on the entire invasion front
  • John Watney – eye-witness account in The Enemy Within (1946)
  • Wehrmacht overwhelmed by ability of RAF and USAAF to attack unprotected armour from above
  • bombing campaigns against Luftwaffe factories + trattritional war against German fighters = paid off spectacularly.



Documenting D-Day:

This Thursday, 6th June, many of the world’s leaders will be gathering on the beaches in Normandy to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy. Those veterans who survived the landings and the rest of the war are now well into their nineties, but many will make the crossing of the English Channel once more to commemorate their fallen comrades and recall the events of June 1944. But what exactly was ‘Operation Overlord’, what happened along the coast of Normandy seventy-five years ago, and what was the significance of those events in the war itself and over the following period? To gain a true understanding, we should not simply rely on Hollywood films or even documentaries. We also need to consult the documents and other primary, eye-witness testimonies from the time, with the help of serious historians. Otherwise, there is a danger that the sacrifice…

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