eyes on the U.S.

Hillary’s Health, Trump’s Reality: The View From Abroad

Trump and Clinton pinatas in San Diego, California
Trump and Clinton pinatas in San Diego, California
Worldcrunch

Not since Pope John Paul II’s health woes a decade ago has the world been so focused on one person’s medical updates. Forced off the campaign trail for four days following a woosy exit from a 9/11 commemoration, Hillary Clinton has the global media zooming in on her every move.

The Democrat's return to the public stage after recovering from pneumonia was front-page news Friday in Greek daily Kathimerini ...

... in Italy's La Repubblica ...

... and in Turkey, where Hürriyet featured small photographs of Clinton waving and her rival Donald Trump giving an exclusive interview to American TV talk show host and medical expert Dr. Mehmet Oz, the son of Turkish immigrants ...

Worldcrunch continues to follow global coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign, less than two months from elections day.

The Democratic nominee’s revelation last Sunday that she had caught pneumonia raised new questions about both the health and truthfulness of the former Secretary of State â€" and rather suddenly moved the prospect of a Donald Trump victory much closer for those watching from abroad.

In Sweden, the Dagens Nyheter daily carried a story about the Swedish Minister for Higher Education Anna Ekström, who’d gotten pneumonia herself just before being appointed to the government. Ekström tweeted words of encouragement out to Clinton "My advice to Hillary: Rest, make sure to take breaks and come back!," she tweeted.

Italian "land artist" Dario Gambarin, in the meantime, came up with a rather, well, down-to-earth response to the brouhaha surrounding Clinton’s health: a giant "Get Well" message that he carved into a field with a tractor. "You can, you must," it reads, alongside an image of the candidate’s likeness.

Source: Dario Gambarin/Inside Edition screenshot

Though most sentiments in the international press clearly continue to favor a Clinton victory, some foreign observers are beginning to explore the secrets of Trump’s support â€" and imagine what a victory would look like.

North of the border, in Quebec, Le Journal de Montréal columnist Loïc Tassé â€" no great fan, apparently, of Trump â€" admits, nevertheless, that "the stars are aligning" for the Republican candidate. "It’s true, Clinton is in the lead. But her advantage is shrinking little by little," he writes. The recent stumbling episode adds to her woes, according to Tassé, mostly because of her refusal to acknowledge the problem beforehand.

German weekly Der Spiegel said after Clinton’s health issues and other recent campaign mishaps, it’s now "Trump’s Hour."

An old problem

Clinton’s health and credibility problems aren’t the only things working in Trump’s favor, argues Herman Matthijs in an opinion piece for the Belgian weekly Le Vif. The Republican also has a tough anti-terrorism message, which could resonate with voters, and the advantage of being new to politics. "He proposes new ideas, something the electorate always appreciates," Matthijs writes.

The headline of an analysis from Chemi Shaliv on Friday in Israeli daily Haaretz summed up much of the sentiment: "A Trump Victory Suddenly Seems Possible, Though Still Unthinkable."

Writing in Geneva-based Le Temps, Pierre-Marcel Favre looked at Trump from a slightly different angle. As harshly as the Republican can be criticized, observers â€" particularly watching from Europe â€" should be careful about how Trump is labeled, writes Favre. He’s a lot of things, but Donald Trump is not a fascist.

If he were to pull off an upset come November, Trump would â€" ironically, given the current focus on Clinton’s health â€" be the oldest person ever elected president of the U.S. The brash billionaire is 70, one year older than Ronald Reagan was when he came to office in 1981. Clinton (68), should she win, would be the second oldest. Democrats Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, possible replacements for Clinton if she were forced to drop out, are even older: 75 and 74 respectively. Either way, Argentina’s Urgente24 argues, America will become a "gerontocracy," in which the ruling class is significantly older than most of the adult population.

In Sweden, Modern Psykologi takes a look at both Clinton and Trump's presidential campaigns on a psychological level, putting the Donald on its cover under the headline "In Trump's head." The Republican candidate is surrounded by words like "ego", "fear of dying", "us & them", "nationalism" and "terrorist threats".

Regardless of the outcome, Trump’s strong showing throughout the campaign season should serve as a "warning to the world," economist António Nogueira Leite writes in Portuguese newspaper Público. Leite sees the candidate’s success as evidence that recent U.S. presidents failed "to preserve the living standards of the past ... and solve, or at least minimize, a whole series of other social issues that have been piling up." The same could be said of leaders in Europe, he argues. The Old World, in other words, might be primed for their own Trumps.

Global indicators

The effects of Trump’s rise, even before the election, have already been felt south of the border. After last month’s impromptu invitation to Trump from Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, newspapers reacted largely with disdain at both men. But since then, as Trump rises in the polls, there appears to be a direct impact on Mexico’s currency markets. The Mexican political review Proceso reported this week that when questions were raised this week about Clinton’s health, the Mexican peso took a hit.

Of course, the election results will reverberate in the real economy, and real world, as well. Cairo-based Al-Ahram, featured an analysis of how the Middle East policy of the two candidates might differ. Though there is no "Clinton Doctrine" vision that one can cull from her four years as Secretary of State, the Egyptian daily noted that she would likely continue current Middle East policy of "proxy war, but without direct military involvement," in light of President Obama's pivot towards Asia. As far as Trump's often shocking policy statements on the campaign trail, Al-Ahram reassured its readers that "speeches of the American presidential candidates does not always get implemented on the ground after they take office."

Even more broadly, Buenos Aires-based La Nacion featured an analysis of the White House showdown, arguing that the election is ultimately a referendum on nationalism (Trump) v. globalism (Clinton).

Needless to say when Americans are abroad, they are asked about the Trump vs. Clinton showdown. New York novelist Jay McInerny was in Mantova, Italy for the city’s annual literary festival, and was asked for some local insight on Trump. "He’s a clown who plays off people’s fears," he said. And if he wins? McInerny didn’t hesitate: "I’ll come to live in Italy."

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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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