blog

Merkel’s Warning, Turkey’s War, Star Wars Preview

Merkel’s Warning, Turkey’s War, Star Wars Preview

GERMANY CAN TAKE 500,000 REFUGEES A YEAR

Photo: Paul Hackett/London News Pictures/ZUMA

Germany can cope with at least 500,000 asylum seekers a year for several years, Die Welt quoted German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel as saying today, as authorities there expect to receive more than 800,000 this year alone (four times the 2014 figure).

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel described the recent arrival of more than 20,000 refugees in Germany as “breathtaking” but “manageable.” “I am happy that Germany has become a country that many people outside of Germany now associate with hope,” Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted her as saying.
  • But Merkel issued a warning to her European neighbors, urging them to take in more refugees. “What isn't acceptable in my view is that some people are saying this has nothing to do with them," she said. "This won’t work in the long run. There will be consequences, although we don’t want that."
  • Countries such as France and the UK said they would receive thousands more asylum seekers over the next months and years.
  • Gabriel also warned that if eastern and western European countries continued to refuse their share of migrants, the Schengen Area of open borders could be at risk.
  • Brazil would welcome Middle Eastern refugees “with open arms,” President Dilma Rousseff said in a speech to commemorate the country’s Independence Day. “Brazil is a nation that was shaped by people of the most diverse origins and have been living here in peace, even in difficult times,” Rousseff said. According to O Globo, about 2,100 Syrian refugees are now living in Brazil.

TURKEY PLEDGES TO “WIPE OUT” PKK

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has pledged to “wipe out” fighters for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, after an attack in southeastern Turkey Sundaythat killed 16 Turkish soldiers. “The mountains of this country, the plains, highlands, cities will be not abandoned to terrorists,” Davutoglu said during a press conference Monday, the BBC reports. “Whatever it takes, they will be cleared,” he added.

  • These deadly incidents come after a two-year peace process between Turkish authorities and the PKK, the EU and the U.S. collapsed in July.
  • As a response, about 50 Turkish warplanescarried out airstrikes against PKK positions in northern Iraq Monday and Tuesday, killing at least 35 fighters, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
  • Meanwhile, Hürriyet reports that at least 10 Turkish police officers were killed today in eastern Turkey when their bus was hit by an IED believed to have been laid by the PKK.

POPE WANTS TO KEEP DIVORCEES IN CHURCH

Pope Francis is expected to unveil changes today that may make it less cumbersome for divorced and remarried Catholics to remain in the church, Italian Catholic weekly magazine Avvenire reports.


CAMERON DEFENDS KILLING UK ISIS FIGHTERS

For the the first time, the UK authorized a drone airstrike in Syria that killed two British ISIS members, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Monday. The two men were killed in Raqqa on Aug. 21. Cameron justified the attack on the basis that one of the terrorists, 21-year-old Reyaad Khan, represented a specific threat to the UK, The Guardian reports. Khan and another ISIS fighter were allegedly plotting to attack “high-profile public commemorations” in the UK, which were understood to be the Armed Forces Day and the May 8th Victory Day, which the Queen presided over. “It was necessary and proportionate for the individual self-defense of the UK,” Cameron said. The move has been strongly criticized across the UK. “If you go down this route, then we want to be very wary of ending up like the Americans,” Conservative lawmaker David Davis said. “Obama has every-Thursday-morning meetings to drop a death list of hits with drones. The result of that? A lot of them hit in Pakistan and killed a lot of innocent people as well. It became counter-productive. It actually made a lot of Pakistanis anti-American, and it helps the terrorist movement there,” The Telegraph quoted him as saying.


ON THIS DAY


Can you guess what masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture was unveiled in Florence, Italy, 511 years ago today? Find out in today’s shot of history.


COURT ACQUITS AMANDA KNOX FOR “STUNNING FLAWS”

Though they were definitively cleared last March, Italy’s highest court has nevertheless acquitted Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito of the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, citing “stunning flaws” in the investigation that led to their earlier conviction, La Repubblica reports.


VERBATIM

“Under such circumstances, certain people will naturally be spurned and kicked out,” Wang Jiarui, head of the international department of China’s Communist Party, said in Beijing today about corruption within the party, Reuters reports. “But if there are many such officials, it will cause a crisis for the ruling party, though we’ve obviously not reached that stage,” he added, revealing fears that corruption could affect the party’s hold on power. Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign in 2012.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD



FRENCH ECONOMIST TO HELP SPANISH PARTY

Thomas Piketty, a French economist and author of the controversial but best-selling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, will join the Spanish anti-liberal Podemos party, Les Echos reports. He is being brought on board to help develop an economic program for the party, which was founded in January 2014 and is now Spain’s second largest. The country is preparing for general elections that will be held in December 2015.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Wareef Kaseem Hamdeo, a chef from Aleppo who found refuge from the Syrian civil war in Gaza City, became a local celebrity after opening a Syrian restaurant there. “After searching for work in Turkey and Egypt, he ended up in the unlikely destination of Gaza, where he endured yet another war for 51 days last summer when Israel and armed Palestinian groups battled until a cease-fire was reached in late August,” Lara Abu Ramadan writes for Syria Deeply. “But he found both love and local fame, eventually getting married and making a new life for himself there. ‘I came to Gaza with my Palestinian friend through a tunnel. It was an adventure,’ Hamdeo says. ‘After we got through the tunnel and came to the beach road near Rafah, the view took my breath away and reminded me of Syria. The air was clean, and it wasn’t nearly as crowded as in Egypt. I felt comfortable again.’”

Read the full article, After Fleeing Aleppo, Syrian Chef Makes It Big In Gaza.


THE FORCE IS WITH FRANCE

Star Wars fans from all over the world now have a reason to book plane tickets to France for Dec. 16. Disney has announced that the seventh installment of the film series, The Force Awakens, will be released in France two days before the rest of the world. "Que la Force soit avec vous !"

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

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

-Essay-

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.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ