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Russians In Syria, Migrant Quota, Trippy Seminar

Russians In Syria, Migrant Quota, Trippy Seminar

EU UNVEILS “BOLD” MIGRANT QUOTA PLAN

In his first State of the European Union speech, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled a plan to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis and urged EU member states to take “bold, determined action.” Among his proposals were the emergency relocation of 120,000 migrants now in Italy, Greece and Hungary, with binding quotas.

  • Juncker also called for EU countries to adopt a common refugee and asylum policy and the reinforcement of the Schengen Area’s external borders with increased security but warned this “will cost money.”
  • The former Luxembourg prime minister, who took over the top Brussels job last November, said he was “strongly in favor of allowing asylum seekers to work and earn their own money while their applications are being processed.” He indicated that the so-called Dublin system, which forces asylum seekers to register in the first EU country they reach, could be scrapped. "Migration must change from being a problem to be tackled to being a well-managed resource," he said.
  • Meanwhile, 200 of the refugees who recently arrived in the German city of Munich have been relocated to France, near Paris, after travelling by bus overnight, Le Monde reports.
  • Australia will take an extra 12,000 Syrian refugees permanently by the middle of next year, with first ones arriving before Christmas, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. This comes on top of the country’s yearly humanitarian intake of 13,750.
  • How do images of desperate immigrants coming to your country make you feel? Here’s are some thoughts by French philosopher Roger-Pol Droit in Les Echos daily.

U.S.-RUSSIA TENSIONS RISE OVER SYRIA

The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused Washington of “boorishness” after American requests to Bulgaria and Greece to close their airspace to Syria-bound Russian planes, amid media reports that Moscow is preparing to provide direct support to President Bashar al-Assad against jihadist groups, Reuters reports. According to The New York Times, Bulgaria has already barred Russian aircraft from entering its airspace, but Greece is yet to announce a decision publicly. Should Greece refuse to let Russia use its airspace, Moscow would be left short of options, with the alternatives being NATO-member Turkey and Iraq, where the U.S. and other Western countries have been carrying airstrikes for a year.

  • Russian daily Kommersant reports that Moscow has turned to Iran as an alternative to carrying out its support for the Assad regime.
  • Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced his country’s warplanes will begin strikes against ISIS in Syria this week, following a similar decision Monday by France.
  • Jihadists, including fighters with the local al-Qaeda branch the al-Nusra Front, have meanwhile seized a key military airbase that was also the last stronghold of the government’s forces in the northern Idlib province, the BBC reports, quoting Syria’s state TV.

BRITISH AIRWAYS PLANE CATCHES FIRE

Photo: Gene Blevins/ZUMA

At least 13 people were injured as a London-bound British Airways Boeing 777 caught fire Tuesday on the runway at Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport.


23,227 DAYS

Queen Elizabeth II becomes the UK’s longest reigning monarch today, overtaking her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years, seven months and two days.


TURKEY’S PRO-KURDISH PARTY ATTACKED

A group of ultranationalist Turkish protesters attacked the headquarters of the Pro-Kurdish HDP party in Ankara and torched shops owned by Kurdish people, as tensions between Turkish forces and the Kurdish militant party PKK continue to rise, Hürriyet reports. According to the HDP party’s co-leader Selahattin DemirtaÅŸ, there have been more than 400 attacks in the past two days on workplaces, seasonal workers, newspaper offices and political party buildings. The rise of HDP was one of the main factors for President Erdogan’s party AKP losing its majority in Parliament in June and after parties failed to reach a coalition agreement, a new vote will take place on Nov. 1.


ON THIS DAY


Today’s video will please Hugh Grant lovers and haters alike … Get your 57-second shot of history here!


VERBATIM

“As I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should have used two accounts. One for personal, one for work-related emails. That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility,” Hillary Clinton told ABC News yesterday, in comments that are the closer to showing remorse so far in the controversy that has been hampering her campaign for months. Meanwhile, Jeb Bush, another embattled White House hopeful, will host a fundraising event in Hong Kong expected to earn this campaign $100,000. Read more from the Financial Times.


VATICAN NEWSPAPER ON DIVORCE CHANGES

The Catholic world is reacting to Tuesday’s news that Pope Francis has made it easier for divorced Catholics to remarry within the Church. Here’s Wednesday’s front page of Vatican daily Osservatore Romano.


CHILD MORTALITY HALVED IN LAST 25 YEARS

Child mortality around the world has fallen by 53% since 1990, a report by the World Health Organization and Unicef shows, but the figure is well below the UN target of a two-thirds reduction. According to the report, 16,000 children under the age of five still die every day.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Syria Deeply’s Lara Abu Ramadan sat down with Wareef Kaseem Hamdeo, a chef from Aleppo who found refuge from the Syrian civil war in Gaza, who became a local celebrity after opening a Syrian restaurant there: “I came to Gaza with my Palestinian friend through a tunnel. It was an adventure. After we got through the tunnel and came to the beach road near Rafah city, 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. The next day my friend took me to his place, Izmir Restaurant. He showed me the place and told me where he wanted me to work.”

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


WHAT’S IN A FINGERPRINT

New technologies can identify whether you’re a smoker or drug user, and can even tell your gender, all from your fingerprints. And it’s already making police investigations a lot easier.


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD



HOMEOPATHIC TRIP

A seminar on homeopathy and other alternative medicines near Hamburg, Germany, ended abruptly when some of the visitors started to have hallucinations, after they took a banned psychedelic drug.

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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.

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