Geopolitics

Headway In Hong Kong, Dilma Selfie, Subway Fail

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff in campaign mode
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff in campaign mode

AUSTRALIA APPROVES ANTI-ISIS STRIKES
Australia has become the latest country to join the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS. Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s cabinet approved Iraq strikes against the group, the BBC reports. The Turkish parliament also voted yesterday to send troops to Iraq and Syria, and to allow foreign forces to use its territory for operations. But Euronews reports that the terrorist group’s advance towards the Syrian border town of Kobani is so far unaffected by the strikes.

According to the United Nations, more than 5,500 people have been killed since the June start of the ISIS offensive in Iraq, more than half of the total number of victims in the country since the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, the situation in Libya continues to deteriorate, three years after the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled. According to the BBC, 29 Libyan soldiers were killed yesterday and another 60 were wounded in two car bombings and clashes with Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi.

HEATED BRAZIL TV DEBATE
The last televised debate before Sunday’s first round of the Brazilian presidential election saw some heated exchanges between the candidates, as the latest polls show incumbent Dilma Rousseff ahead with a solid lead. Rousseff came under fire, including from her main rival in the race, Marina Silva, over a corruption scandal allegedly involving members of her government and state-owned oil giant Petrobras. "No one is immune to corruption,” newspaper Folha de S. Paulo quoted Rousseff as saying. She argued that those cases were coming to light only because she has “combated” corruption. “There are corrupt people everywhere, but institutions must be capable of ensuring that all crimes are investigated and punished." Read more in English from AP.

HONG KONG PROTESTERS ACCEPT TALKS
After a week of protests, pro-democracy demonstrators accepted Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying offer of talks, but they are still demanding his resignation, AP reports. Government offices have been closed for the day in the main protest area as barricades prevented civil servants from getting inside the buildings. According to the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, anti-protest sentiments are growing among residents and business owners, as the protesters’ spirit is dampened by heavy rains and increasing clashes.

76 MILLION
J.P. Morgan has said that about 76 million households have been affected by this summer's cybersecurity attack on the bank. The breach, first revealed in August, stole customers' contact information — names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses — but did not take account information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers or passwords.

VERBATIM
Here I am, alive.” Terrorist group Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau denied Nigerian army claims that he'd been killed, Nigeria's Guardian newspaper reports.

U.S. CAMERAMAN INFECTED WITH EBOLA
An American cameraman working for NBC in Liberia has tested positive for the Ebola virus and will be flown back to the U.S. for treatment, the network explained on its website. The freelance worker had been hired on Tuesday and came down with symptoms just one day later. This comes amid news that up to 100 people may have been in direct or indirect contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed in the U.S. Four people close to him have been placed in quarantine. Liberian authorities, meanwhile, announced that Duncan will be prosecuted when he returns to Liberia for allegedly lying in an airport questionnaire about whether he had been in contact with the virus. Read more from USA Today.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
From Süddeutsche Zeitung comes this hour-by-hour account of the emergencies, medical and otherwise, that crop up at Germany’s Oktoberfest when all the beer-drinking and dirndl-chasing go too far. “At the back entrance a surgeon, an orthopedist and a cardiologist wait for new patients to be brought to them,” journalist Anna Fischhaber writes. “All three have been working here for three years, and they know all the horror stories: about the American who bit off his girlfriend’s whole lower lip” and about what happened just yesterday: the tongue that had to be disentangled from some braces. "It’s great working here. There’s always something going on," a young doctor tells the newspaper. "Personally, I only go to Oktoberfest before 8 p.m. After that it’s just too dangerous."
Read the full article, Achtung! How Oktoberfest Looks From The First-Aid Station.

16 STILL MISSING IN JAPAN
As many as 16 people are still missing after the eruption of Japan’s Mount Ontake, with searches still hampered by heavy rain and the volcano’s poisonous fumes, The Japan Times reports. Already, 47 bodies have been recovered, but ash up to half-a-meter thick around the peak has raised fears that more bodies may be entombed there.

STAY FIT FOR HALLOWEEN
Halloween is coming, and apparently we all need to keep dieting to fit into sexy costumes. Oh sorry, not all of us — just women. Or so says Subway in the chain’s latest advert. The big question here is whether this will inspire another South Park episode mocking the company.

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Society

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

-Essay-

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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