SPOTLIGHT: SOCCER & THE STATE OF FRANCE
â€œEverything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe it to soccer,â€ French philosopher Albert Camus once said.
And thereâ€™s definitely more than sports at play in the Euro 2016 soccer championship that kicks off tonight in France: There are heightened security fears around the tournament, which attracts tens of thousands of fans, in a country that has witnessed two major terror attacks in the past year. The very location of the first game â€" the Stade de France â€" was actually one of the sites where suicide bombers struck last November.
To top it off, disasters both natural (floods) and manmade (strikes) have crippled the country in past weeks. Last night, French President François Hollande warned potential demonstrators that â€œthe state will take all necessary measuresâ€ to ensure the games are not disrupted.
The French, and soccer fans around the world, deserve some cheer. But even soccer, Franceâ€™s greatest love affair, may be tainted. Sylvie Kauffmann, writing in The New York Times, wonders what recent racism allegations in the team mean for French unity, and the role that ethnicity and identity play in the "obligations of men" in a country still reeling from terror attacks.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY & WEEKEND
- Final farewell to Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky.
- Celebrations of the Queenâ€™s 90th birthday in London
- 70th Annual Tony Awards (Sunday).
KURD MILITANTS CLAIM ISTANBUL ATTACK
The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), an offshoot of the Kurdish nationalist militant group PKK, claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that killed 11 people in central Istanbul on Tuesday. In a statement published on their website, TAK militants warn tourists that â€œforeigners are not our target, but Turkey is no longer a reliable country for them.â€ Meanwhile, Turkish jets killed up to 10 Kurdish militants in the southeast of the country, Reuters reports, citing military sources.
KUCZYNSKI WINS PERUVIAN CLIFFHANGER
After a week of uncertainty, Peru may finally have a new president. With almost all votes counted, The Peruvian Times reports that former Wall Street investor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has edged out his rival Keiko Fujimori, although she has yet to concede. Once the result is made official, the winner of the tightest presidential election in Peru in decades will be sworn in on July 28.
â€" ON THIS DAY
Itâ€™s already been nine years since what is arguably the best series finale ever aired. Check it out, and more, in todayâ€™s 57-second shot of History.
BLUE BIRD IN THE DARK
Twitter is doing its best to face yet another data breach after reports earlier this week that a Russian hacker, known as Tessa88, was selling a list of 32 million usernames and passwords. Although the social media site first denied being hacked in a blog post yesterday, it did lock an unspecified number of accounts and asked users to reset their passwords.
NEW MH370 DEBRIS FOUND
A Seattle lawyer looking for parts of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 found new debris on an island in eastern Madagascar, French-language Lâ€™Express de Madagascar reports. Plane debris was also found on Australia's remote Kangaroo Island yesterday, according to 7 News. MH370, with 239 people on board, disappeared on March 8, 2014, en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.
Married under Sharia law in their native country, underage refugees raise hard questions for Germany's legal and child welfare system. According to Die Weltâ€™s Peter Issig, German courts are divided. â€˜Justice officials throughout Germany's 16 federal states have also examined the subject of underage marriages, as the refugee crisis has made this issue more urgent. North Rhine-Westphaliaâ€™s Minister of Justice, Thomas Kutschaty, said that â€œin the context of the refugee crisis, it can be noted that the number of married, underage girls, from Syria or other countries, has increased.â€ These married underage refugees accompany their often significantly older husbands or are supposed to join them abroad to start a family.â€™
Read the full article, Should Refugee Child Marriages Stand In Germany?
â€œAt some point, the British will realize they have taken the wrong decision. And then we will accept them back one day, if thatâ€™s what they want,â€ German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaüble said at a Berlin conference, in reference to a possible British exit from the European Union. According to German daily Der Spiegel, Schaüble acknowledged that UKâ€™s departure could have dramatic consequences on the EU, including other bloc members following their lead by organizing referendums of their own.
MY GRAND-PEREâ€™S WORLD
At The Crossroads Of Continents â€" Þingvellir, 2001
â€" MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH
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- These Brazilian Companies Were Ruined By The 2014 World Cup â€" Folha de S. Paulo
- In Switzerland, Asylum Is Being Privatized â€" Le Temps
ADD FOUR CHAIRS TO THE PERIODIC TABLE
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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