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

GADDAFEED Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi delivered a virulent, often rambling television address, directly threatening violence against his people and declaring himself "the eternal leader of the revolution."

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie

GADDAFEED Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi delivered a virulent, often rambling television address, directly threatening violence against his people and declaring himself "the eternal leader of the revolution." Shouting often, repeatedly wiping his mouth with a red handkerchief and pausing for water, Gaddafi declared that he would die a "martyr" rather than being forced out of the country.

Al Jazeera, which regularly broadcasts Osama bin Laden's statements in full, for unknown reasons cut the feed about halfway through the speech, during which Gaddafi alternately blamed the Arab media, foreign entities, and drugged youth for fomenting unrest and tarnishing the image of Libya. The protesters have until Wednesday to clear the streets, Gaddafi said, after which time he vowed the execution of the "enemies of Libya."

LOCAL REAX

*@samihtoukan: "Gaddafi: He who kills an innocent person kills all humanity!"

*from Zantan, in west Libya, this sign reads: "Let the repressive Gaddafi fall. As long as he is in power, we are prepared to die." It is signed by "the people of Zantan."

*3alarasi.com has a cartoon of what it calls "free Libya." The word "Libya" is spelled out in white writing, as the hands on either end break the chain.

*One of the Arab world's most influential clerics, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradwi, called on Libyan soldiers to put a bullet in the leader if given the chance. "Any officer or soldier who can kill Gaddafi…if any one of them can fire a bullet and free the great people of Libya from the evil of that dangerous man should do it." Qaradawi is an Egyptian cleric based in Doha who hosts Al Jazeera's "Sharia law and life" program.

ET AL, UP CLOSE

*Egypt: @waelabbas: "The number of people in Tahrir Square is growing."

*Bahrain: An estimated 30,000 people gathered in Bahrain's capital in response to the opposition's call for protests. Demonstrators chanted, "No Shiite or Sunni – only Bahraini" and "down with the regime," reports CNN Arabic. The protest follows a major concession by Bahrain's King Hamad on Monday to release an unspecified number of political prisoners.

*Yemen: Protests continued for the 12th straight day, spreading to the eastern part of the country. Thousands of demonstrators have a single demand: the resignation of 32-year-incumbent Ali Abdullah Saleh. Reuters Arabic reported on an unnamed woman covered in black from head to toe who climbed up to the platform at the protest in the capital of Sanaa and told the crowd of mostly men: "I am a woman from the eastern province of Marib. And we hold more than anyone to our traditions. But I call on you to let your women join the protests." The crowd responded by chanting, "We want the regime to fall," the rallying cry heard these days across the Arab world.

Feb. 22, 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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