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

*As Yemeni state television aired a photo montage of President Ali Abdullah Saleh accompanied by background music, the crawl beneath reads: "President Saleh, may God protect him, is in good health and reports of his death are untrue." Al Arabiya and other news outlets reported that Saleh had sustained a minor injury to the back of his head during an attack on the presidential compound on Friday. A source in Saleh's ruling party, the General People's Congress, told the network that Saleh escaped an assassination attempt, accusing the opposition and tribesmen loyal to Sadiq al-Ahmar of orchestrating the shooting.

*At least three people were killed on the attack on the presidential compound in Sanaa, including the mosque imam who was leading the prayers for Saleh and other senior officials when the shells hit.

BBC Arabic reports that 34 people were killed during Friday protests in the conservative city of Hama, where President Bashar Assad's father killed up to 20,000 people during an Islamist uprising in 1982. In the accompanying video report, protesters chant, "the Syrian people are one. One, one, one." In another clip, protesters (including small children) walk through the streets chanting, "the people want the regime to fall."

*Internet service was cut in most of the country. But Al Jazeera interviewed an eyewitness in Hama, who breaks down while recounting that dozens of people were killed when Syrian security forces opened fire on the crowds. Why Hama when protests unfolded around the country, the interviews asks. "I don't know, but probably because of the enormous size of the protest in Hama." The eyewitness said at up to 60 people, including children, were killed by live bullets. "It was deliberate, targeted killing," he says.

*Egypt's Finance Minister Samir Radwan announced that the minimum wage for public-sector employees will go up to $117 per month. The wage hike is a key grievance of protesters who maintain that the current $67 doesn't come close to keeping up with the cost of living. But the higher wage doesn't apply to the private sector, where most of the workforce is employed. The minimum wage struggle is a hot-button issue in Egypt, where it remained at its 1984 rate of $5.89 per month until last November.

*Also in Egypt, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military council ruling the country, said certain unnamed "paid elements' are seeking to "drive a wedge between the people and the army." Tantawi also acknowledged divisions within the armed forces, and said they would be resolved. He pledged that the armed forces would continue to serve as "a protective shield" for Egypt.

June 3, 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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