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

Syrian security forces are conducting arrests and house-to-house searches seeking any information related to the whereabouts of Hama's Attorney General, Adnan Bakkour, who announced his resignation last week in a video posted on YouTube. Bakkour condemned the Syrian regime and cited the slaughter of civilians in Hama as the reason for his resignation. The state media machine immediately reported that Bakkour was forced to make the statement after having been kidnapped by the supposed "armed terrorist groups' funded by shadowy external enemies behind the uprising. Activist Mohammed Homsi told Al Arabiya that Bakkour is almost certainly outside Syria given the mortal danger he now faces. Al Sharq Al Awsat paper reports that authorities suspect Bakkour is hiding in Hama.

Al Rai, Jordan's largest daily newspaper, reports that Jordan was ranked 104 out of 190 countries in terms of quality of life. The international surveylooked at prices, recreational and cultural opportunities, environment, democracy, health and infrastructure. Tunisia topped the list of Arab countries, ranking 83rd, with Lebanon at 113, Morocco at 116, Syria at 125 and Egypt at 135. France was awarded the top spot as the world's most liveable country.

Also in Jordan, an unidentified man in the northern Jordan Valley was charged with murder after his daughter, a widow for the past four years, gave birth to twins. The father "did not know about the pregnancy and was surprised by it," he testified in front of the prosecutor. As the doctor examined the daughter in the hospital, the father entered the room on the pretext of visiting her, and allegedly pulled out a gun, shot her dead and then ran off. He turned himself in to local authorities, pleading clemency because he killed her to save the family's honor from her shame of pregnancy out of wedlock.

Selling Halloween-themed flip-flops has led police to issue arrest warrants for two managers of the Big Sales store in Beirut after a complaint by the Catholic church. The spooky sandals feature a nighttime scene of a bat flying over a graveyard with one of the headstones in the shape of a cross.Police are investigating "the reason such products were being sold and the country of origin the shoes came from," the official National News Agency reported. Authorities confiscated the allegedly heretical footwear as some Lebanese Christians held a sit-in in front of the store. Store owner Ali Fakih, a Muslim, told a local radio station that he was "not trying to do anything detrimental to religion," adding that the store will be closed until further notice. Photos of the offending flip-flops are here.

Sep 5, 2011

photo credit: illustir

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

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.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!