ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What The Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What The Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing
Kristen Gillespie


*The Syrian Revolution Facebook group has a new logo, with a face split down the middle; half civilian and half clad in military gear. "We will not serve in an army that is killing us," the banner reads at the top. The design reflects the group's priority for the moment to encourage Syrian soldiers to desert. "We are the Hama of Syria, not the Hama of Assad," it reads below, a message reproduced in this piece of calligraphy art. The word "Assad" is printed on a drawing of a shoe, showing disrespect for the Syrian leader. The group's home page banner concludes with the message: "During the month of Ramadan, every day is a Friday."

Despite massive military offensives in Hama and Deir a-Zor, protests appear to be continuing around the country. Though impossible to verify the dates and locations, this clip purports to be of a Sunday protest in Homs, this one from the largely Kurdish town of Qamshilu and this from Daraa, where the uprising began.

The pro-government Syrian daily Al-Watn slammed Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah for criticizing state-sanctioned violence against civilians. The king's statements late Sunday appeared more like the transmission of American threats than a "brotherly message," the paper wrote. "There is evidence that proves Syrians are the victims of a conspiracy." Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have recalled their ambassadors to Syria, with both countries condemning the bloodshed.

The Iqtisadiya newspaper reports that "the siege of Tripoli is starting to strangle the city; power cuts are plaguing residents." Already facing a fuel crisis, power outages and limited water supplies are taking a toll on Tripoli's residents. The U.A.E. paper reports that citizens blame Gaddafi, the rebels and NATO for the stranglehold, calling the cuts a provocation to force them to rise up. Despite the blazing heat of the desert summer, Ahmad, interviewed by the paper at a vegetable market in Tripoli, said he could live without air conditioning, but not refrigeration. "Power outages sometimes last 24 hours," he said, rotting food reserves stored in freezers.

August 8, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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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


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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