BEIJING â€"Using technology to get the most out of your workers, it seems, is a goal shared by employers around the world. From Silcon Valley to Shanghai, punch cards and time clocks are being upgraded with biometric tracking, fingerprint recognition and facial scanning to avoid fraud such as so-called "buddy clocking."
But now, Bejing Daily reports, there are a whole new set of tools that Chinse companies are using to guard against workers slacking off. When an employee arrives at the office or factory, his smartphone connects automatically to the company Wi-Fi to track his presence. Other companies are using location-based social plug-in apps such as WeChat to track not only whether a worker is on site, but also precisely where.
Some workers actually see an upside: "I used to arrive at work at least 10 minutes earlier than my start time, but there was always a queue of people in front of me clocking in that made it really stressful," Yuhan told the Bejing Daily. "Now I am no longer anxious every morning about being fined."
But most of those interviewed don't like all the new eyes. "I can't go anymore in the toilet just to make a few phone calls, or check up on the Internet," one worker who gave his name as Hong lamented. "Big Brother is always watching you."
The use of mobile apps is particularly effective for bosses who want to track their employees' working hours and location when dispatched for work out in the field.
"Now I'm required to send a geographical indication and a selfie to my section chief through a social-media service, once in the morning and another time at the end of the day, to prove that I really am where I'm supposed to be working," grumbled one employee.
But there's more: To be sure that a photo isn't faked in advance, workers are required to take selfies in a particular pose that the boss indicates at the last minute. It's a bit like the digital world's version of photographs of kidnapping victims holding the newspaper to prove the date it was taken. So much for Internet freedom.
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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