Geopolitics

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

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie


FULL CIRCLE
The head of the Ennahda party in Tunisia, Rachid Ghannouchi, is calling for calm in the town of Sidi Bouzid, the site of violent protests since the Islamist party's victory was announced on Thursday, Almoslem.net reported. Supporters of the People's Party began rioting following the announcement that Ennahda had won 90 seats in parliament, comprising 41 percent of lawmakers. Sidi Bouzid is the town where the protest movement began in Tunisia after a vegetable vendor immolated himself last December after being denied a permit to sell produce. The government has imposed a curfew on Sidi Bouzid, while security forces fired into the air to disperse the crowds. Protesters tried to attack the municipal headquarters, and set fire to the mayor's office.

DÉJÀ VU
Egyptian lawyer Mohammed Abdul Aziz has filed a legal complaint over the death of Issam Atta, 23, who was tortured and beaten to death while at Tora prison. Atta was sentenced to two years in prison in February, and he was reportedly tortured with electric cables in his mouth and "places sensitive to his body" for attempting to smuggle a mobile phone into the prison, A-Dostour newspaper reported. After the beatings, he was transferred to a nearby hospital, where he died an hour later. His family was not notified of Atta's condition, and were not able to see him before he died. Atta's funeral was held on Friday

STANDOFF
Thousands of Yemenis have unflaggingly held protests since February demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years. For months, Saleh has said he would resign but has failed to do so, despite an initiative proposed by neighboring Gulf countries that would avoid prosecution of Saleh and his family. As time passes, security forces continue to shoot and kill protesters, and the chants from the crowds are becoming increasingly impatient. On Friday, tens of thousands of Yemenis gathered in Sanaa's "Change Square" to demand Saleh be tried. "Free people of the world: Saleh must be tried," they chanted, along with "Defenders of the regime: repent and join your brothers in Change Square." A Yemeni woman was killed by a sniper on Friday while crossing the street with her husband near the square.

CROWN PRINCE
Al Jazeera announces the ascension of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef al-Saud to crown prince. Prince Nayef is known in the west for blaming "the Zionists' for the attacks of September 11, 2001, saying "it is impossible that Bin Laden or Al Qaeda did it alone."

October 29, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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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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