WAR AGAINST UKRAINE “UNLIKELY,” PUTIN SAYS
Photo above: Mikhail Metzel/TASS/ZUMA
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in an interview with Russian television that war against its neighbor Ukraine was “unlikely,” expressing his hope that this “apocalyptic scenario” would “never happen.” Asked about the Minsk agreement, he said that if fully implemented it would see the situation in Eastern Ukraine “gradually stabilize,” the BBC reports. Putin’s television appearance was followed by news this morning that pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine said they had begun to withdraw heavy weapons from the front line. Read more from The Moscow Times.
- Russia’s state company Gazprom has warned Europe that gas supplies to the continent are at risk if Kiev fails to pay its gas bill on time, suggesting a new row on gas deliveries could soon erupt.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5
At least five drones were spotted overnight flying above sensitive Paris landmarks, including the Elysée Presidential Palace and U.S. Embassy. A source close to the investigation told AFP they couldn’t catch the operators. A drone was seen flying over the Elysée last month as well. Similar devices were noticed last year flying over French nuclear power plants.
LEAKED SPY CABLES SHOW NETANYAHU LIED TO UN
Top-secret intelligence documents leaked to Al Jazeera show that one month after Benjamin Netanyahu warned the 2012 UN General Assembly that Iran was 70% on the way to completing its "plans to build a nuclear weapon," Mossad informed South Africa in a cable that this was not the case. The Israeli secret services noted in the secret cable that Tehran had not in fact begun the work needed to build any kind of nuclear weapon, thus confirming previous findings from the U.S. National Intelligence Agency.
- This will likely be a blow to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s credibility as he is currently campaigning for reelection and preparing to address the U.S. Congress, defying Barack Obama’s opposition, on March 3. Netanyahu has also been the target of embarrassing revelations at home, especially over expenses. And investigative TV show revealed that the PM and his wife wanted to use taxpayers’ money to pay for repairs in a private home. Read more from Haaretz.
- The leaked documents, dubbed “Spy Leaks,” also show that the CIA attempted to make contact with Hamas despite an official U.S. ban to do so. In one cable, President Barack Obama is reported to have threatened Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in 2012 over his plan to seek a non-member observer status at the UN. Read the full article from The Guardian.
ON THIS DAY
FIFA RECOMMENDS WINTER QATAR WORLD CUP
Officials from FIFA, the world’s governing body of soccer, have said that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be held in November and December instead of the traditional June and July when temperatures there can exceed 40°C. A final decision is expected next month. But as ThinkProgress argues, this decision won’t fix the biggest problem about the Qatar World Cup, namely that the gigantic construction projects are reliant on migrants working in slave-like conditions.
PEANUTS MAY PREVENT PEANUT ALLERGY
Feeding babies peanut products reduces the risk of the infants developing peanut allergy later in life by more than 80%, a new study suggests.
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.
- Mein Kampf And The Nazi Role In Arab Anti-Semitism - Worldcrunch ›
- Anti-Semitism In German Rap, A Loaded Question - Worldcrunch ›
- Why Sweden Has An Antisemitism Problem - Worldcrunch ›