Russian Boots In Syria?, Japan Boy Found, Paris Floods


The headlines in France on the new Mideast conference are hardly inspiring. “The French initiative will fail,” declared right-leaning daily Le Figaro. Newsmagazine Le Point was more succinct: “A useless conference,” it noted.

As is often the case with Israel-Palestine peace talks, expectations are low at the international conference that is starting today in Paris. Israeli foreign minister Dore Gold roundly rejected it even before it started. The gathering will include representatives from 28 Arab and Western countries and organizations but the most important stakeholders will be missing: Israel and Palestine will not participate in the talks. “We don't want to act in the place of the Israelis and Palestinians but we want to help them,” French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Info radio station this morning, underscoring that direct talks between the two do not work.

The conference will aim to be pragmatic and use a new, original approach that draws on lessons from previous failures, including that of the U.S.-led peace talks in 2014, when negotiations collapsed after an agreement deadline expired. It’s important to remember that this conference is only a first step and would hopefully prepare the ground for direct negotiations in the fall of 2016.

In recent years, the Israel-Palestine situation has taken a backseat to other conflicts unfolding in the Middle East. Today’s Paris talks are an attempt to bring it back into the spotlight. “We’re not going to reinvent the wheel,” French newspaper Le Monde quotes a negotiator as saying in Paris. But maybe it’ll get the machine going â€" once again.


  • Peru holds second round of presidential elections Sunday.
  • World Environmental Day falls on Sunday.
  • U.S. election caucuses in Virgin Islands (Saturday) and Puerto Rico (Sunday).


Moscow could deploy special operation forces and volunteer soldiers on the ground in Syria to fight rebel groups, Andrei Fyodorov, former Russian deputy minister for foreign affairs, told Al Jazeera. Russia had previously reduced its role in the Syrian conflict to give a chance to peace talks, but there is now discussion of the need for a “Stalingrad,” a final, decisive battle that would require ground troops.


At least 24 people, including two police officers, were killed yesterday in clashes between the police and squatters being evicted from a park in the north Indian city of Mathura, India Today reports. The protesters belonged to a religious sect calling for changes to India’s constitution.


After having to deal with widespread strikes and gas shortages, Paris faces more turmoil: Flooding by the Seine river is expected to peak today. See how daily Le Parisien featured the floods on its front page.


“Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different â€" they are dangerously incoherent,” Hillary Clinton said in a foreign policy speech in San Diego yesterday. She also described her Republican opponent as “temperamentally unfit” to be president and that electing him would be a “historic mistake.” On the other hand, House speaker Paul Ryan announced in his hometown Wisconsin newspaper Gazette that he will finally endorse Trump.


This tennis legend is turning 30 today … Find out who, and more about June 3, on today’s 57-second of history.


A meeting to decide whether to hold a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro was cancelled after clashes between police and protesters erupted in capital Caracas, El Diario de Caracas reports. Opponents of the socialist president say the country could face increasing unrest if the referendum does not take place.


An accidental overdose of the powerful painkiller fentanyl killed musician Prince, 57, on April 21, the Minneapolis Star Tribune said, citing a report from the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office. Fentanyl is a powerful drug, similar to but more potent than morphine.


The Babypod is a speaker that, inserted vaginally, will expose a fetus to music of your choice inside the womb. Writing for Süddeutsche Zeitung, Alena Schroder regales us with extracts of the radio programs on offer: “Hello fetus listeners, that last track was Britney Spears with ‘Hit Me Baby, One More Time.’ I hope all of you have been kicking along to the beat? Don’t forget, if you are kicking, try to aim for the bladder! ... Right, let’s leave the exercise regime behind and get to the latest traffic news: No further obstructions in the parturient canal. Only little Maximilian Meyer in Unterföhring is experiencing a disturbance through someone coming towards him from the wrong end of the birth canal. But not to worry, that’s just your dad and he will be finished in a minute. Let’s continue with some music! Here are The Doors with "Break On Through (To the Other Side)"..."

Read the full article, Uterus Groove, The Babypod Lets You Pump Music Into The Womb.


Yamato Tanooka, a seven-year-old Japanese boy, spent 144 hours alone in the remote woods of Japan’s Hokkaido region. He went missing last Saturday after his parents abandoned him for being “naughty,” but was found early this morning alive and well, The Japan Times reports.


Go Up Moses â€" Mount Nebo, 1996


At least 302 people were rescued in the Mediterranean this morning after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized near the island of Crete, The Guardian reported, quoting a Greek coastguard. Three bodies were also recovered during the operation.



For those of you in Paris, wondering whether the rain is going to stop soon: The answer is ...

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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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