GUNMEN WHO ATTACK ANTI-MUSLIM EVENT KILLED
Police shot and killed two gunmen after they opened fire outside a building in Garland, Texas, where a contest for cartoons depicting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad was being held, The Dallas Morning News reports. The attackers’ identities haven’t been released.
- The controversial event was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers an anti-Muslim hate group. According to The Daily Telegraph, the group’s founder Pamela Geller “has a long history of generating anti-Islam controversy” and is banned from entering Britain. Dutch far-right and anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders was attending the event and delivered a keynote speech.
- Before being killed, the gunmen wounded a security officer, who was treated in has since been released from the hospital.
Funchu Tamang, a 101-year-old man, was pulled from the rubble of his home in Nepal with only minor injuries Saturday, a full week after the earthquake that destroyed significant parts of the country, including the capital Kathmandu. The death toll continued to rise over the weekend and now stands at 7,250, with over 14,000 injured.
SAUDI COALITION USING BANNED ARMS
Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Sunni Arab coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen have been using banned cluster munitions supplied by the United States in their airstrike campaign over Yemen, Human Rights Watch said in a report. Cluster munitions contain anywhere from dozens to hundreds of submunitions, which are spread out over a wide area and are designed to explode like landmines. Their use poses threats to civilians and is therefore banned by a treaty signed by 116 countries. The United States, Saudi Arabia and Yemen are not among the signatories.
Britain’s new princess “has artistic talent and does not like to stick with the status quo, unlike her brother who will be more disciplined and reserved,” Chinese fortune tellers predict. Born Saturday morning, the daughter of Prince William and Kate is fourth in line to the throne, after her brother George. The baby’s name is expected to be announced later today.
Photo: Zhao Xiaoming/Xinhua/ZUMA
Masseuses perform facial massages for volunteers at the Shandong Provincial Sports Center in Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province. At least 1,000 volunteers received 30-minute facial massages today in the interest of creating a world record.
UK PREPARES FOR CRITICAL ELECTION
As Britain braces for Thursday’s election, which could be the tightest general election in recent years, incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron is already preparing to initiate coalition talks with his current governing partner, the Liberal Democrats, within hours of the election, the Financial Times reports. The latest polls suggest that neither the Conservatives nor their Labour opponents will win an outright majority, meaning the two main parties will need to find partners if they are to govern effectively. For Labour leader Ed Miliband, that would mean relying on Scottish nationalists.
5,800 MIGRANTS RESCUED IN 48 HOURS
An estimated 5,800 migrants have been rescued from boats off the Libyan coast and transported to Sicily during what Corriere Della Sera describes as “a black weekend.” Rescue teams recovered 10 dead bodies.
Dubbed the “Fight of the Century,” Saturday's welterweight title boxing match in which American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. beat Filipino Manny Pacquiao failed to live up to the hype. Pacquiao is "still the people's champ," the Philippine Daily Inquirer writes in its Monday edition, which features a picture of Pacquiao on its front page. The newspaper quotes the Filipino fighter as saying, “It was a good fight. I thought I won the fight,” before an unimpressed crowd at the Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena.
ON THIS DAY
Margaret Thatcher, also known as the “Iron Lady,” took office as British Prime Minister 36 years ago today. Learn more about May 4 in your 57-second shot of history.
ETHIOPIANS PROTEST IN TEL AVIV
Israeli police arrested 43 people after violent clashes erupted between security forces and Ethiopian Israeli demonstrators in Tel Aviv yesterday, Haaretz reports. Protesters were denouncing police brutality after the release of a video showing two policemen beating up an Ethiopian Israeli soldier. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin admitted “mistakes” with regard to the Ethiopian community. A protest march is planned for later today in front of the government’s Jerusalem headquarters.
- According to Haaretz, the Palestinian Authority also complained to the United Nations about Israeli police methods after a 9-year-old boy and his 12-year-old brother were detained for eight hours without their parents’ being notified for allegedly throwing rocks at a bus.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
As Die Welt’s Freia Peters reports, doctors in Germany have noted an alarming rise in psychotic episodes linked to excessive marijuana use among young people, which follows other studies around the world raising similar concerns. “Those who start smoking marijuana on a regular basis before the age of 15 are six times more likely to suffer from psychosis in later years,” Peters reports, citing experts. “Adolescent cannabis consumers suffer from more anxiety and depression than their non-consuming counterparts. Cognitive performance is diminished, and the loss of concentration is a common side effect. Quite often, these adolescents are unable to recall the content of a text they read only a few days before.”
Read the full article, Teen Marijuana Use And The Risks Of Psychosis.
JAR JAR’S BONES
Here’s a May the Fourth (as in, "May the Force be with you") scoop that will make most die-hard Star Wars fans rejoice: Director J.J. Abrams told Vanity Fair he has considered killing off the widely despised Jar Jar Binks character.
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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