Tuesday, July 8, 2014
ISRAEL PREPARES FOR GROUND OFFENSIVE IN GAZA
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the army to prepare for a possible ground offensive in Gaza, Haaretz quotes a senior official as saying. This comes after the Israeli military launched “Operation Protective Edge” hitting more than 50 targets in air strikes. Palestinian militants continued to fire rockets into southern Israel, some of them intercepted by Israel’s protection system Iron Dome. Earlier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged Israel to “immediately stop its escalation and the raids on Gaza.”
UKRAINE CEASEFIRE REJECTED
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey rejected talks with separatists and said there would be no new “negotiations” until “the rebels completely lay down their arms,” AFP reports. His declaration comes amid increasing pressure from Germany and France to broker a truce deal between the two sides, and as Kiev forces follow orders to blockade the rebels inside the city of Donetsk, where most of the separatist forces have gathered after fleeing Sloviansk over the weekend.
Five runners were injured in a traditional bull run on the first day of Spain’s San Fiermo festival.
DEADLY ATTACK AMID POLITICAL TURMOIL IN AFGHANISTAN
At least 16 people, including four Czech NATO soldiers, were killed in a suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan this morning, AP reports. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Meanwhile, Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah rejected yesterday’s result giving a lead to his rival Ashraf Ghani and claimed victory, although millions of ballots are still being audited for fraud.
JAPAN BRACES FOR TYPHOON
More than 500,000 Japanese were urged to evacuate their homes as one of the most powerful typhoons in recent years is nearing its coasts, Reuters reports. On top of torrential rains and gusts of wind of more than 250 km per hour (155 mph), waves up to 14 meters high are also expected. Three nuclear power plants that lie in the predicted path of typhoon Neoguri are shut down due to national policy, a precaution aimed at avoiding a new nuclear disaster following the tsunami that hit Fukushima in 2011.
In his first meeting with abuse victims since rising to the papacy, Pope Francis begged for forgiveness with some strong words.
BLOOD TEST FOR ALZHEIMER’S
British scientists have developed a blood test that can predict with a 87% accuracy whether people with memory problems will develop Alzheimer’s disease in the following 12 months, The Guardian reports.
As Brazil gets set for tonight’s World Cup semifinal against Germany, here’s a Le Monde report from Manaus, the urban center in the heart of the Amazonian rain forest, where a growing number of Indigenous people are searching for survival. “The World Cup and everything that comes with it should be miles away from the concerns of the City of God. Indigenous Amazon people like Perreira, divided in 160 tribes with 200 languages, are following the Copa with as much interest as the rest of Brazil. But soccer is just soccer, and although the braided basket structure of the Arena da Amazonia, the stadium in Manaus, is inspired by local culture, the status of indigenous populations is still uncertain.”
Read the full story, World Cup Detour With Amazonia's Indigenous.
BY THE NUMBERS
An American pharmaceutical lab wants to charge patients 56,000 euros for medication that costs them 200 to make.
Real Madrid legend Alfredo di Stefano has died at age 88.
GOV’T CORRUPTION TO BLAME FOR SOUTH KOREAN FERRY DISASTER
South Korea’s national audit agency announced it was taking legal action against 11 government officials it suspects of corruption after finding that they were partly responsible for the sinking of a ferry in April that killed at least 293 people, most of them high school students. According to news agency Yonhap, the report shows “a flurry of governmental negligence and corruption” contributed to the disaster by, among others, failing to conduct proper safety controls.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
ONE HELL OF A POTATO SALAD
This guy just wanted to make a potato salad. He needed $10 — so he started a Kickstarter. Check out how much money he’s made so far.
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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