Balkan Genocide Ruling, Castro Resurfaces, Google-Uber War

Balkan Genocide Ruling, Castro Resurfaces, Google-Uber War

After years of investigation, the Hague’s International Court of Justice has ruled that Serbia did not commit genocide against the Croats during the Balkan wars in the 1990s. While acknowledging that crimes had been committed, the court argued that Croatia failed to prove that Serbia had intended to “destroy in whole or in part” the Croat population. Similarly, the UN’s top court rejected a genocide counterclaim from Serbia. The case was a particularly difficult one, as both parties had accused the other of genocide during the 1991-1995 war when Croatia fought for independence from the country then known as Yugoslavia. As many as 20,000 people are estimated to have died in what was Europe’s most violent conflict since World War II. This short BBC video offers more background on the case.

President Barack Obama’s 2016 budget (see photo above) includes an $8.8 billion request to fund the fight against ISIS, which includes helping to modernize and reinforce the Iraqi army and strengthening the moderate Syrian rebellion. The request comes amid news that Kurdish fighters backed by U.S.-led airstrikes continue to gain ground against ISIS around the town of Kobani.

Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy has renounced his Egyptian citizenship in a bid to be released from jail and deported to Canada, where he is also a citizen. Fahmy has been detained for 402 days over allegations of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, but he is expected to be released soon, as was his Australian colleague Peter Greste over the weekend. But the fate of a third Al Jazeera journalist, Baher Mohamed, is unclear, as he holds no dual-citizenship.

“Closing my eyes and holding still. It's the end if I get mad or scream. It's close to a prayer. Hate is not for humans. Judgment lies with God. That's what I learned from my Arabic brothers and sisters.” This 2010 tweet from Japanese journalist Kenji Goto has been retweeted tens of thousands of times as a tribute following his execution by the ISIS terror group.

Cuba's Communist Party newspaper Granma has published the first photos of Fidel Castro in months, amid rumors that the health of the 88-year-old former Cuban leader has recently deteriorated. Read more here.


The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to prosecute Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for the widely reported phone-hacking scandal and bribery of public officials in the UK, The Guardian reports. The 2011 revelation that journalists at the media mogul’s tabloid News Of the World had hacked the cellphones of a missing teenage girl and dozens of celebrities caused a massive uproar in Britain, eventually leading to the publication’s closure.

You’ve never seen The Simpsons’ opening sequence with that many pixels, but it’s better than ever.

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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