MOSCOW â€" Russian long jumper Darya Klishina has publicly thanked the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for granting her entry into international tournaments, including the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Following the recent far-reaching doping scandal, which resulted in the disqualificaion of Russia's entire track and field team, Klishina is the only Russian athlete permitted to participate in the Olympics so far, under a neutral flag.
Yet Klishina's green light for Rio was met with harsh criticism and disdain from her compatriots, which prompted the long jumper to release a statement to defend herself.
Part of the negative backlash stems from Klishina's involvement in revealing the scandal. In 2015, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) uncovered systematic state-sponsored doping by Moscow that was partially supported by Klishina's testimony. The investigation revealed widespread doping sanctioned by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. Klishina placed her career on the line by disclosing sensitive information, as the testimony implied that she too was involved with performance-enhancing drugs. Following the intervention by the IAAF, all Russian athletes have been suspended from international competitions, under an extended ban that includes the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The IAAF declared that each athlete has the opportunity to appeal the decision and re-apply to meet the new "clean" criteria. The only Russian athletes to be permitted into the Olympics, under a neutral flag, are those who can prove that they had no involvement in the scandal and were subject to drug tests outside of the country. A total of 136 appeals were received by the IAAF, as of now 67 of which were rejected and the only one approved has been Klishina's.
She posted a message Sunday on Facebook expressing her gratitude towards IAAF, which was met with insults and accusation, including criticism of her expatriation to the United States that some equated with a lack of patriotism and even treason.
One user calls her a "sellout," anticipating a swift end to her athletic career and stating that her actions "will be a forever stain on her conscience." Others urged Klishina to change her citizenship and never return. "Looks like she jumps so well that she jumped out of her country. No matter how you perform, you will not have fans in Russia."
Several hours later Klishina followed up her original post: "I'd like to point out that I did not begin training in the United States with an American coach a month before the situation unfolded. After all, I've been there for three years. Scolding me and calling me a traitor is, in my opinion, wrong. Until the last moment I will wait and hope that I will not be the only one going to the Olympic Games. I'd like to believe that the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne will conclude the July 19th hearing with a positive decision for us all."
The athlete emphasizes that she went through the same application process for the Olympics as the other athletes, and it is not her fault that she was the only one who met the criteria set by the IAAF. "Right now we all need support. If the fans turn their backs at a time when we are dismissed and rejected, it is the worst thing that can happen," Klishina concludes. "Let's unite and believe â€" until the very end â€" that we will perform in Rio as a team!"
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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