Among all the big numbers weâ€™ll hear broadcast at the lavish ceremony for the opening of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, whether itâ€™s the 5,000 people volunteering at the event or the 10,500 athletes competing in it, the number 10 will perhaps resonate most deeply with the world.
Thatâ€™s the number of members who comprise the UN-backed Refugee Olympic Team.
At the close of the â€œparade of nationsâ€ ceremony, these 10 athletes will walk just before host country Brazil and, if only for a brief moment, turn the spotlight on the worldâ€™s staggering refugee crisis.
For many of the 3 billion viewers watching the spectacle around the world, those 10 members will conjure up images of the plight of hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees who are struggling to leave their troubled nations behind.
The team of sportspersons (five from South Sudan, two from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, two from Syria and one from Ethiopia) doubt that they'll win medals, French newspaper Le Monde writes. But as Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games, once said: â€œTo take part is more important than to win.â€
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- The Olympic Games opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, at 8 p.m. local time.
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Japan (Saturday).
SOUTH AFRICA ELECTIONS
President Jacob Zumaâ€™s governing African National Congress got â€œknocked off its high horse,â€ local daily The Times smugly declared on its front page today. Partial results of this weekâ€™s municipal elections signal a major setback for the party in key cities and possibly its worst outcome since the end of apartheid. Final results are expected later today.
BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTS IN UK
Protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement are blocking roads around Londonâ€™s Heathrow Airport as part of a national day of action. Similar demonstrations are taking place in Nottingham and Birmingham, The Telegraph reports.
â€" ON THIS DAY
Goodbye, Norma Jean â€" 54 years ago, already. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of History.
ISIS LEADER KILLED IN EGYPT ...
Local newspaper Al-Ahram reports that an Egyptian army airstrike in the Sinai peninsula killed Abu Duaa al-Ansari, the head of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis movement, a militant group linked to the ISIS terror network.
â€¦ BUT THOUSANDS CAPTURED BY ISIS IN IRAQ
The groupâ€™s fighters may have caught up to 3,000 Iraqi villagers fleeing to Kirkuk city yesterday and executed 12 of them, a UN report quoted by Reuters says.
For years, Muslims helped police identify radicals in Italy. But this assistance isn't enough. Italy needs to address legislative gaps and promote cultural integration. For Italian daily La Stampa, Karima Moual writes: â€œOver time, locals have grown accustomed to having plainclothes police officers present at major events. â€˜No one says so in so many words, but in the hundreds of mosques spread across our country, leaders and imams know how risky it would be to have a bad apple among the faithful,â€™ says a source who is active in Islamic organizations and prefers to remain anonymous. â€˜That's why no one balks at information requests. A few hotheads who were deported had been flagged by us, very discreetly, to the police.â€™â€
Read the full article, In Italy, Muslims Quietly Assist Law Enforcement.
â€œBIG LEBOWSKIâ€ DIES
David Huddleston, who played the "Big Lebowski" character in the 1998 cult movie, has died of advanced heart and kidney disease in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at age 85. Huddleston also starred in the 1974 film Blazing Saddles and in the 1985 comedy Santa Claus: The Movie.
â€" MY GRAND-PEREâ€™S WORLD
Casual Friday â€" Bodø, 1967
"Even though the U.S. and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space and definitely plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon," Hyon Kwang Il, director of the scientific research department of North Korea's aerospace development agency, told AP.
MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH
- A Congolese Man Gives Midwives A Run For Their Money â€" Syfia
- Good Health News For So-Called "Sandwich Generation" â€" Die Welt
- Artist Turns CIA Papers Into "Mosaic" Of U.S. Role In Latin America â€" Clarin
This 15-second video quote by Benjamin Franklin also applies to Olympic athletes!
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.
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