Hamas Leaders Targeted, Typhoon Rammasan, Cheeky Robot

More than 370,000 people were evacuated after Typhoon Rammasan hit the Philippines
More than 370,000 people were evacuated after Typhoon Rammasan hit the Philippines

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Israeli air force is continuing to strike Gaza, targeting the residences of four Hamas leaders hours after warning 100,000 Gazans to flee their homes, AP reports. This comes after Hamas rejected an Egypt-brokered ceasefire yesterday. Blogger Richard Silverstein writes that a well-placed Israeli source revealed that the ceasefire protocol had been written by Israel’s government.

The death toll in Gaza reached 208 this morning with more than 1,500 injured since the beginning of the operation, nine days ago. According to British journalists for Channel 4 network, a Gaza hospital was hit by 3 Israeli rockets.

More rockets continue to be fired into Israel, with about 87% of them being intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. An Israeli man was killed yesterday, the first one on that side of the border since the latest outbreak began.

As bombs and missiles are launched into Gaza and Israel, the Tel Aviv-based newspaper Calcalist reports on the cooperation that quietly continues across the border to avoid that the situation grows even worse. “Israel controls all the outside borders of Gaza, whether at sea, land or air. The only exception is the Rafah crossing to Egypt. With such control, Israel has to take responsibility for what is happening in that closed swath of territory. Israel's obligation to Gaza is preserved in international agreements and treaties, and the country is therefore responsible for the well-being of more than 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.” Read the full article, Economic Links Quietly Bind Israel And Gaza.

China announced it had completed its controversial drilling in disputed waters of the South China Sea, which had sparked violent anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam two months ago. According to Xinhua, the oil rig is being moved towards the Chinese island of Hainan. Some people in China suggested that the move was a “capitulation to pressure from the U.S.,” after Washington passed a resolution urging China to remove the oil rig, writes Quartz.
For more on the China-Vietnam dispute, here’s a Le Monde/Worldcrunch piece, Naval Pursuits And Geopolitics In The South China Sea.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa leaders have agreed on the structure of their New Development Bank, which with an initial capital of $100 billion is aimed at providing an alternative to the World Bank, the Financial Times reports. The new organization will be based in Shanghai and its first president will be Indian, while Brazil and Russia will also have top representatives. South Africa meanwhile will be home to a “regional center” for the continent, a move which means that “each member country got something out of the deal,” according to Bloomberg.

The Mexican police rescued 458 children as well as 138 adults from a group home infested with rats, ticks and fleas where they were being held against their will, AP reports. Some of the children are also believed to have suffered sexual abuse. The home’s owner and eight workers have been arrested.

That was the jail sentence that a French court handed down to a right-wing local politician for a racist Facebook post about the country’s first-ever black justice minister.

At least 370,000 people were evacuated in the Philippines as a powerful typhoon that has already killed 10 people swept through the country, causing severe damage cutting power, Reuters reports. The typhoon, nicknamed Rammasun, hit parts of the country that were still recovering from typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,100 people in November.

The death toll from an Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen to 603 since February, with at least 68 deaths reported from three countries in the region in the last week alone, Al Jazeera reports.


“Take your clothes off and go stark naked” AFP talks to Pepper, a Japanese robot that can apparently read human emotions

— Crunched by Marc Alves.
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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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