BURZACO - Carolina Ortega is 37 years old, a trained journalist, and she works as an advisor for Argentine Congressman Felipe Solá. She grew up in the city of Burzaco, just outside of Buenos Aires. When she was just 7, following her parents' acrimonious separation, her father left home, and the family never saw him again.
Now, with the help of Twitter, she is telling the next, jaw-dropping chapter of her personal story.
"I'm in an episode of Lost, Ill go out, breathe, and then tell you the story."
Estoy en un capítulo de Lost. Salgo, respiro, y les cuento.
— Carolina Ortega (@ComandoCarolita) April 17, 2013
"I look up again, I cannot believe it. It's been 30 years that we haven't seen each other. I read the Taxi ID card with his info that is hanging on the seat. It's him."
Lo vuelvo a mirar, no puedo creerlo.Hace 30 años q nos vimos x última vez.Leo el cartel con los datos q cuelga del asiento delantero. Es él.
— Carolina Ortega (@ComandoCarolita) April 17, 2013
"What are the chances that in Buenos Aires, on the day that I'm going crazy to help my mom, I stop a cab that is driven by my father, whom I haven't seen since I was 7 years old?"
¿Qué posibilidad hay de q en BA, en el día q salgo loca a ayudar a mamá,pare taxi y el q maneje sea mi viejo, al q no veo desde mis 7 años?
— Carolina Ortega (@ComandoCarolita) April 18, 2013
Let's rewind a moment. It was April 17th, when Carolina had to leave work in the middle of a heated session of congress: she had received news that her mom had been robbed, back in her home town of Burzaco.
“I left my office in a rush and noticed that I had no cash on me. I went to the ATM, but it wasn’t working -- one of them swallowed my card in a series of unfortunate events. Which is why I decided to not keep tempting destiny and hop into a taxi without knowing what fate had in store for me on the other side”, the journalist said.
When she got in the cab, she decided to go home and get money, and then take a bus to Burzaco. On her way home, the cabdriver, whom she hadn’t even looked at because she was in such a hurry, said: “I know where you’re headed.” And he made a reference to the rugby club near her childhood home. “If you want to, I can drive you there.”
A glance in the mirror
Carolina was so frazzled that she said yes, deciding it was better not to lose time waiting for a bus. They had been driving for a while, and all of a sudden Carolina noticed that they were already close. “Oh good, we are going fast,” she told the cabbie.
At that point, she quickly looked up to see what the driver looked like. "I looked at the rearview mirror and recognized him immediately," she recalled. "We have the same eyes, we look very much alike. I could not believe it. I had to double check, and then I noticed the taxi card with his information and I saw my father’s name."
Carolina’s first impulse was to get out of the cab. “I asked myself, how am I going to handle the situation when I get to my mom's place with her ex-husband, after 30 years. And then I though well, no, if destiny put us here together today, after all this time….”
At that point, a sudden sense of calm took over. Carolina remained silent, “letting everything flow naturally.” Neither she nor her father talked about the past or anything throughout the rest of the drive.
Upon arriving at her mother’s house, the same house he left 30 years ago, she told him “thanks for everything. I gave him the money and got out of the cab. When my mom came out the house he took off, and I thought to myself, it’s better this way.”
Then Carolina focused on helping her mom.
That night, she narrated her whole story on Twitter.
Here is a video of her interview with Clarín:
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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