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

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

CNN Arabic is reporting that fleeing Gaddafi family members agreed to certain conditions by the Algerian government before being given sanctuary in that country. A Libyan convoy of seven cars carrying 31 people, including Gaddafi family members, arrived at the Algerian border at 8:45 Monday morning.

The family is "allowed no phone calls from outside" Algeria, CNN Arabic reports. Algerian paper A-Nahar reported that the family agreed to make no public statements and take no calls because "any phone call would put Algeria in a position of political embarrassment," and could be interpreted as "managing the war from a distance."

Muammar Gaddafi's daughter Aisha, a UN Goodwill Ambassador believed to be in her 30s, gave birth on the Algerian side in the early hours on Tuesday morning.

Ibrahim Almojel, a Saudi citizen, tweets: "The Arab League must intervene in Syria. What is happening in Syria far exceeds the craziness of Libya."

Sheikh Gamal Qutb, chairman of the Fatwa Committee of Egypt's Islamic Al-Azhar University, spoke to the press to dispel persistent rumors that Israel was to blame for "discord and confusion" regarding the sighting of the moon that signals the end of Ramadan. Qutb stressed that "what is being said is not true at all," and that in fact, Saudi Arabia and Egypt did agree on the sighting of the new moon and that the three-day holiday of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan began on the correct day. The sheikh did not elaborate on how Israel might have sabotaged the appearance of the new moon.

Egyptian local news website Al Youm Al Sabaa reports that thousands of Egyptian residents of the town of Wadi Natroun blocked the nearby desert highway for hours on Wednesday to protest the many fatalities and accidents on the perilous road. Residents attribute the high casualty rate to a lack of bridge or tunnel for pedestrians to safely cross the highway. Families have been calling for a pedestrian crossing for decades to no avail. The final straw for residents was the death of a small child this week after being hit by a speeding car on the highway.

A local official arrived on the scene and promised to install temporary speed bumps. The protesters opened the road after the bumps were placed on the highway. The website confirmed the official's promise that the General Authority for Roads and Bridges will begin building a bridge over the highway next week.

August 31, 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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