Thursday, July 17, 2014
GAZA’S SHORT-LIVED CEASEFIRE
A temporary ceasefire that was planned to last at least five hours was broken less than three hours after it started, with the southern Israeli town of Eshkol targeted by what the Israeli military says were three mortars. The Guardian says there are conflicting reports about the attack with the police saying that the weapons were two rockets. So far, nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier, Israel had said it would respond “immediately” if attacked.
Just before the ceasefire started, Israeli forces said they had foiled an attack by 13 Hamas militants who attempted to cross into Israel through a tunnel, while AFP reported that an Israeli tank killed 3 Palestinians, taking the death toll in Gaza to 230 in 10 days. This came after Israeli warships fired and killed four Palestinians on a Gaza beach yesterday. French broadcaster TF1 was in the area when it happened and shot this graphic video of the attack.
During the ceasefire, Gazans rushed to the markets to buy fresh food, as humanitarian aid, including medical supplies were temporarily brought into Gaza.
NEW U.S. SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA
The United States imposed new sanctions on Russia, this time targeting the banking and energy sectors as well as individuals, with President Barack Obama reiterating calls for Moscow to “halt the flow of fighters and weapons” into eastern Ukraine, The Washington Post reports. Vladimir Putin responded to the news saying that the sanctions “usually have a boomerang effect, and without a doubt will force US-Russian relations into a corner.” Meanwhile, Kiev accused Russia’s air force of shooting down a Ukrainian jet in the eastern region of Luhansk.
TRIPOLI AIRPORT ATTACKS
An anti-government militia soldier points out a shell stuck on the tarmac of Tripoli's International Airport, the scene of heavy fighting this week.
AUSTRALIA KILLS CARBON TAX
The Australian Parliament voted in favor of scrapping the country’s carbon tax, fulfilling a promise made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in his election campaign last year, Australian daily ABC reports. Abbott described the outgoing policy as a “useless, destructive tax which damaged jobs.”
Beijing-based Caixin reports on a new standoff in China between animal-rights activists and the dog butchering business. “According to reports, certain Yuling city dog vendors publicly mistreat and maim the dogs and use this as blackmail to force dog lovers to buy the animals at high prices. If proven true, this is a new kind of evil that ought to be condemned by a civilized society. But at the same time, we must face the fact that such cruelty on a dog is only one step away from eating it.
Read the full article, Animal Rights In China: Making The Case To Ban Dog Eating.
TIME WARNER REBUFFS MURDOCH BID
Time Warner rejected an $80 billion takeover offer from media mogul Rupert Murdoch, a move which “would be the biggest media deal in more than a decade,” writes The New York Times. But according to well-informed sources, Murdoch and his conglomerate 21st Century Fox are “determined and unlikely to walk away anytime soon,” while the newspaper predicts that if successful, the takeover is “likely to set off a wave of takeover battles elsewhere in the industry.” For British newspaper The Guardian, Murdoch’s pursuit of Time Warner “may be the last great deal of his career.”
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
The director of the U.N. AIDS program, Michel Sidibe, said in a report Wednesday that new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS were decreasing, making it possible to control the epidemic by 2030 and eventually ending it everywhere.
IT’S OK TO USE BAD PASSWORDS, SAYS MICROSOFT
A research published by Microsoft suggests that instead of coming up with strong and different passwords for each website or service, we should focus our efforts only on sensitive websites, and just re-use the same, easy-to-remember password for all the others.
AWKWARD BIRTHDAY TO YOU ANGIE
A German reporter wished Angela Merkel a happy 60th birthday, in what has to be one of the most embarrassing rendition of the “happy birthday” song.
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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