SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, HERALD SUN, THE AUSTRALIAN, (Australia), BBC (UK)
The new law mandates that cigarettes be sold in drab olive-green packs and ban all commercial logos. Packs will be distinguishable only by printed brand names in a standard font and size, according to The Australian. Large graphic health warnings will dominate the packs. The new law will go into effect in December.
British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Philip Morris and Imperial Tobacco took their fight against the green boxes to the High Court in April, reports the Herald Sun.
The cigarette companies argued the Government was effectively taking their property without compensation by stopping them from using their trademarks. They also argued that the Government was taking their property for anti-smoking “advertising” and should pay for the privilege.
But to make their case, says the Sydney Morning Herald, the companies had to show that the government gained a measurable benefit as a consequence, which is apart from the claimed benefits to population health. The High Court responded that the companies’ case could not succeed unless it could be shown that the government had taken property from them.
British American Tobacco Australia said it was “extremely disappointed” the High Court had upheld “a bad piece of the law,” adding “at the end of the day no one wins from plain packaging except the criminals who sell illegal cigarettes around Australia.” The company believes that “the illegal cigarette black market will grow further when all packs look the same and are easier to copy.”
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek declared in the Sydney Morning Herald: “This is a victory for all those families who have lost someone to a tobacco related illness,” adding “No longer when a smoker pulls out a packet of cigarettes will that packet be a mobile billboard.” According to the ministers, plain packaging is a vital measure, “which removes the last way for big tobacco to promote its deadly products.”
The case will be of enormous interest around the world as other jurisdictions such as the UK and New Zealand contemplate plain packaging laws, says the Herald Sun.
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.
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.
The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender
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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