ARABICA: A Quick Shot Of What's Brewing In The Arab World

ARABICA: A Quick Shot Of What's Brewing In The Arab World

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie

The ruling political coalition in Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Alliance, said on Tuesday that it would not order the arrest of wanted Vice President Tareq al-Hashimi, accused of being part of an assassination plot targeting Iraq's Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

"The investigation of a criminal case cannot be moved from one place to another, as the trial must take place where the crime occurred Baghdad," a member of the coalition, Khalid Shwani, told al-Sumeria News. Shwani, who is the head of parliament's Legal Committee, said the Alliance "does not confuse the issues of political and judicial decisions."

*Among the digital vox pop, Anas Altikriti tweets, "Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi poses a question to Obama: Where is the freedom, democracy and stability you were referring to? My home is besieged with tanks and soldiers."

*Kuwaiti Dahem al-Qahtani calls the order for al-Hashemi's arrest a "sectarian coup," adding: "Iran is playing a dangerous game."

*Linda Waheeb from Amman, Jordan comments on al-Hashemi's press conference blaming Maliki for erasing progress made on reconciliation and national unity: "Tareq al-Hashemi's press conference proves that the situation in Iraq has gone from bad to worse."

Egypt's ruling military leadership issued an apology on its Facebook page for "excesses' perpetrated by security agents against female protesters earlier this week. The military council said it would prosecute anyone engaged in improper conduct toward women at demonstrations.

The statement, however, details no specific actions nor announces any changes in policy, but vaguely affirms the right of women to protest peacefully alongside men. The military's apology comes as hundreds of women held a demonstration in Tahrir Square to condemn the brutal treatment at the hands of Egypt's security services. Dozens of men joined them to denounce the military for allowing the violations.

Jordanian news website Khaberni posted a video of a sunburned King of Jordan in a speedboat off the port city of Aqaba, who stops his boat to greet citizens in a nearby vessel. The king's boat passes as the men shout out: "We are with you, we swear our allegiance to you, sir." The king orders the driver to stop his boat and stumbles as he reaches across the boat to shake the excited man's hand, who continues to reiterate his loyalty. The subject then promptly invites the monarch to lunch.

Dec. 21, 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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