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

As protests in Egypt continued for the 11th day, calls continued for Hosni Mubarak's ouster, a state of affairs the Egyptian President said he is "fed up" with, in an exclusive interview with the American broadcaster ABC News.

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie


As protests in Egypt continued for the 11th day, calls continued for Hosni Mubarak's ouster, a state of affairs the Egyptian President said he is "fed up" with, in an exclusive interview with the American broadcaster ABC News. Mubarak insists he will not step down, saying the country would fall into chaos if he did. On the streets, it seems too late for that, as reports of lawlessness and looting continue to pour in, a general strike continued, opposition leaders refuse dialogue until Mubarak leaves and banks and the stock market remained closed as Egypt loses hundreds of millions of dollars in income for every day of instability.


ALL NEWS IS GLOBAL

*Pan-Arab media outlets and Arabic wire service coverage continue to emphasize the inclusive nature of the protests; peasants, leftists, Islamists, Egyptians of all beliefs and classes, uniting to fight for two things: the resignation of Mubarak and a more representative government.


*In Algeria, opposition activists say they are planning to carry out protests on February 12th despite the promises of President Abdulaziz Boutefliqa to lift the state of emergency that has been in place for 19 years and allow reforms. This from Reuters Arabic. "Rashid Malawi, a union president and one of the protest organizers, said he believed that the protest would take place because the actions taken by Bouteflika are not convincing. Malawi said he believed the government was not serious about achieving democracy in Algeria." The one common thread of protests across the Arab world, from Yemen to Algeria, is that the people out on the streets are not accepting their leaders' words at face value, and are demanding nothing less than immediate action.


TWITTERING

*Samih Toukan, one of the Arab world's most successful internet entrepreneurs, tweeted in Arabic the historical analogy Western analysts have ignored: "The Great Arab Revolt," begun in 1916 to throw off the yoke of Ottoman rule, led by T. E. Lawrence and Sharif Hussein of Mecca, the great-grandfather of Jordan's King Abdullah. The Revolt was also noteworthy for planting the seed of Arab nationalism, a new form of which is taking shape every day.

*Those people in the streets have no time for television, says @hmada20: "We're in the streets, not watching Al Jazeera – we're making our own revolution, ourselves."

*This homemade sign in Arabic was spotted in Tahrir Square today, addressed to Mubarak: "If you love Egypt, leave her."

GRAPHICALLY SAID

*Jordan's most famous cartoonist Imad Hajaj imagines the shame of Egypt's once-respected army as it stands by, allowing Mubarak's thugs to attack civilians:

"Mubarak's supporters savagely attack protesters in Tahrir Square"

The inscription on the statue's plinth reads: "The father of the modern Egyptian army, Abdel Moneim Riyadh and representative of the war of attrition"

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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