UKRAINE READY TO NEGOTIATE WITH RUSSIA
Ukrainian Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk told investors at a conference this morning that the government “would like to hold negotiations on Ukrainian-Russian relations and we think that our foreign ministers should meet as soon as possible," Voice of Russia reports. He named bilateral trade and energy as topics that should be discussed between Kiev and Moscow.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry described NATO’s decision to suspend its co-operation with the country as one that creates a sense of "deja vu", adding that "the language of the statements rather resembles the verbal jousting of the "Cold War" era," Reuters quotes a spokesman as saying.
The European Union will provide Kiev with $1.2 billion by June, news agency Interfax quotes a senior official as saying. This comes after the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a $1 billion aid package, which includes $100 million to boost “security cooperation among the United States, European Union and countries in central and eastern Europe.” Read more from AP.
POWERFUL QUAKE OFF CHILE
A powerful quake of 8.2 magnitude struck off the northern Chilean coast yesterday evening, killing at least 5 people, newspaper El Mercurio reports. The tremor triggered a tsunami alert in the region, as well as in Peru, forcing the evacuation of what some have estimated as up to one million people. The alert was later cancelled in most areas, although it remains in place in Hawaii, according to local daily The Star Adviser. The extent of the damage is still unknown but Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of emergency in the affected areas.
EU-AFRICA SUMMIT IN BRUSSELS
Some 80 leaders of African and EU countries are meeting in Brussels for a key summit expected to focus on the ongoing crisis in the Central African Republic, AFP reports. This comes after the European Union sent a 1,000-troop mission to assist the 6,000 African Union force and the 2,000 French soldiers deployed in the violence-ridden country. According to the UN's refugee agency UNHCR, some 16,000 people were forced to flee from the capital city of Bangui over the past week.
MADURO’S “CALL FOR PEACE”
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro calls for “peace and dialogue to move forward” after the deadly protests that have been shaking his country since mid-February. Maduro also uses the newspaper column to slam what he describes as the U.S. government’s hypocrisy, saying Washington “is on the side of the 1 percent who wish to drag our country back to when the 99 percent were shut out of political life and only the few — including American companies — benefited from Venezuela’s oil.”
Brice Pedroletti, Le Monde’s correspondent in Beijing, profiles China’s Xi Jinping a year into his reign: “Leading the new values promoted by Xi Jinping is frugality, which has become a strict obligation for senior officials who are forbidden from going to banquets and private clubs. For instance, “Xi Dada”, or “Uncle Xi,” as some Internet users like to call him, went to a cheap restaurant in Beijing in December, ordering only 21 yuan (around $3.40) worth of fritters, to the great surprise of the other customers…”
Read the full Le Monde/Worldcrunch article: A Different China? The Extra-Large Ambitions Of Mr. Xi
SIX DEAD AS WWII BOMB EXPLODES IN BANGKOK
At least six people have died at a scrap metal warehouse in Thailand’s capital Bangkok after a 500 pound bomb from World War II exploded, destroying the building and setting it ablaze, The Bangkok Post reports.
20 STILL MISSING AFTER WASHINGTON STATE MUDSLIDE
Authorities in the Washington state announced that the death toll of the mudslide that destroyed a small town on March 22 now stands at 28, while the number of people still missing dropped to 20,USA Todayreports. About 30% of the search area is still under 80 feet of mud and impossible to access. According to The Daily Herald, preliminary assessments by state and federal authorities calculated that the mudslide and the subsequent flooding have caused at least $32 million in damage to public infrastructure.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8
This Long Island teenager has quite a choice to make ...
- Frankie Knuckles, "Godfather of House Music," has died at 59. Rolling Stone has the details.
- Charles Keating, key figure in the 1980s savings and loan crisis, dies at 90. Read more from the New York Times
North Korea has released a new logo to mark the first anniversary of its space agency, and it’s… well… inspired, to say the least.
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.
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.
The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender
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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