Thursday, June 5, 2014
G7 THREATENS MORE RUSSIA SANCTIONS
Leaders of the G7 are meeting today in Brussels, and the unrest in Ukraine is expected to be high on the agenda, the BBC reports. Because Russia was kicked out of the G8, Russian President Vladimir Putin is not attending the meeting. He will nevertheless meet with some of the leaders in Paris ahead of tomorrow’s D-Day commemorations, but not with U.S. President Barack Obama. In a statement released yesterday, the G7 condemned “continuing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” and said it was ready to “intensify targeted sanctions.” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev replied this morning, “The so-called G7 even dares to talk about the ‘restrained actions’ of the Ukrainian army against its own people. Cynicism knows no limit in this case.”
An Iranian woman prays during a mass ceremony at Jamaran Mosque in northern Tehran to mark 25 years since the death of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
PAKISTAN DRONE KILLINGS INVESTIGATION
The Islamabad High Court in Pakistan ordered the police to investigate murder allegations against former CIA station chief Jonathan Banks, who is accused of being involved in a 2009 drone strike that killed innocent family members of a U.S. target, local TV station Dunya News reports. According to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, human rights campaigners welcomed the decision, which they say could “pave the way for dozens more cases to be brought against the U.S.”
International news agencies have accused French television broadcasters TF1 and France Television of commercializing D-Day commemorations for charging 200,000 euros to access tomorrow’s event coverage.
INTRODUCING NEGATIVE INTEREST RATES
The European Central Bank is expected to announce drastic moves in a bid to boost eurozone growth, amid concerns over low inflation and the strength of the single currency, Deutsche Welle explains. One of the bank’s boldest moves will be to introduce negative interest rates on deposits, meaning that banks would have to pay to keep money at the central bank instead of receiving interest. The ECB hopes it will encourage banks to lend more and help the eurozone recover from the financial crisis.
Chester Nez, the last of the 29 Navajo "Code Talkers" recruited during World War II to develop secret wartime communication based on their native language, has died in New Mexico at the age of 93.
ISRAEL TO BUILD 1,500 NEW SETTLEMENTS
Israel’s Housing Ministry announced plans to build another 1,500 settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, in a move that Minister Uri Ariel said was a response to the formation of a Palestinian unity government between Hamas and Fatah. “I congratulate the decision to give a proper Zionist response to the establishment of the Palestinian terror cabinet,” Haaretz quotes Ariel as saying. But Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said the decision was counterproductive, as it would “only make it more difficult for us to rally world support against Hamas.” According to The Jerusalem Post, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro expressed Washington’s disapproval, but said that the U.S. “will not work with a government in which Hamas sits.” Meanwhile, the Australian government is coming under intense criticism from its opposition after it condemned the description of East Jerusalem as an “occupied” territory, operating what The Sydney Morning Herald describes as a “dramatic shift.”
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
ASSAD WINS SYRIAN ELECTION
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was re-elected for a third term in office, gathering 88.7% of the vote in the country’s presidential election, which Western countries branded as a sham.
Le Monde’s Brice Pedroletti makes a visit to southern China, where there is a movement afoot to openly challenge the Communist regime. Twenty-five years after the Tiananmen Square protest was crushed, it remains a risky affair. “Created in 2011, the Nanfang Street Movement is a real manifestation of democratic rumblings on Chinese social networks, which for a long time were powerless to transform virtual anger into ground action,” the journalist writes. “Our approach is to make the switch from the Internet to the real world," movement co-founder Wang Aizhong tells the reporter. “We want to ward off the fear of taking to the streets. We show people what we do so they'll tell themselves that it's possible.”
Read the full article, The Nanfang Street Movement, Heirs To Tiananmen.
EBOLA KILLS 200 IN GUINEA
According to figures released by the UN’s World Health Organization, at least 328 cases of ebola have been reported in Guinea, and 208 of those infected with the highly contagious virus have died. Neighboring countries Sierra Leone and Liberia are also affected, with over 90 cases in total. “There is no known cure for ebola, which kills up to 90 percent of those who contract the virus,” Al Jazeera writes.
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY
Celebrate the 41st World Environment Day by planning your organic vegetable garden or swearing off bottled water for good. And consider reviewing this semi-ironic list of other ways to help.
REWRITING GAME OF THRONES
If you’re a Game Of Thrones fan and wish to erase the end of last Sunday’s episode from your memory, check expand=1] out this alternate version.
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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