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

The Jordanian intelligence service is denying that its agents hacked into the popular Ammon News website earlier this week and forced it offline for several hours.

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie


*The Jordanian intelligence service is denying that its agents hacked into the popular Ammon News website earlier this week and forced it offline for several hours. Ammon News online edition was hacked a day after it published the full text of a petition to King Abdullah demanding political and economic reform signed by 36 tribal leaders, the king's primary support base. An unnamed "official source" told the state-run Petra agency that the authorities have not received a complaint about possible hacking, but if they did, they would open an official investigation. Not a single reader comment appeared under this online article in Al Ghad, one of Jordan's most popular dailies, nor under the statement on Ammon News' website explaining the hacking. This is likely due to a restrictive press law that applies to any statement posted online, with criticism of the government and the royal family outlawed. Khaled al-Kalaldeh, one of the founders of the site, wrote the "the authorities continue to resist change…and attempt to silence voices calling for real, fundamental reform." Again, not a single comment appeared under al-Kaladeh's statement.

*Twitter users in Jordan did not address the hacking charges directly, but Zein Abu Odeh tweeted: "A constitutional monarchy requires revising the social contract, making the king the head of state and not the head of the power centers."


*Syria appears to be relaxing a four-year ban on Facebook and YouTube, sites that users inside Syria must use proxies to access. The government does not comment on Internet access, which is intermittently opened and closed – one day an email provider such as Yahoo will work, then it won't for months. Al-Watan newspaper on Wednesday quoted unnamed Syrian analysts as saying that the decision to lift the ban represents "the government's self-confidence and its lack of fear regarding any potential threat these sites might pose."


*Lebanon's Prime Minister-delegate Najib Mikati is preparing to unveil his new government, one that will be led by Hezbollah and its allies -- and tensions are already rising in Beirut, independent news website NOW Lebanon reports. The coalition of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri has flatly refused to join a Hezbollah-led government. Amin Gemayel's Kataeb Party withdrew from negotiations on Monday to play a role in the incoming cabinet, one which will likely include centrists and technocrats alongside Hezbollah members, a source close to Mikati told AFP. The government formation has moved slowly, "particularly with regard to solving the complex problem of the Interior Ministry," a ministry that oversees the entire police, intelligence and law-enforcement apparatus, NOW Lebanon reports. Hezbollah members will likely face indictments in the UN-backed investigation into the February 2005 assassination of Hariri's father, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and it is not yet clear how the Party of God, which has been trying to stop the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's investigation, will react.


*Wael Ghonim, the new face of the Egyptian movement demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, is encouraging his nearly 34,000 Twitter followers to keep up with the protests and not back down. "This is not the time to negotiate. Now is the time to answer the demands of young people: the president stepping down and the liquidation of the ruling party."

Feb. 9, 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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