Geopolitics

Ivory Coast: French Firepower And Diplomacy Do The Right Thing

Editorial: The French daily Le Figaro gives a warm applause to the government for its timely and efficient intervention to help oust strongman Laurent Gbagbo

Ivory Coast: French Firepower And Diplomacy Do The Right Thing
Pierre Rousselin

PARIS - The fall of Laurent Gbagbo sends a basic yet important message to the rest of the world: anyone who loses an election should pack up and go. It is a message that concerns Africa probably more than any other continent, and one that deserved full engagement from France and of the rest of the international community.

It is, however, a shame that four months of crisis and violent combat was needed to reach this result, that the stubbornness of a single man, who for five long years has denied his people of their lawful democratic elections, had to bring the Ivory Coast into such a sad and bloody mess. Fortunately, Gbagbo has been captured alive so that he can answer for his acts. His trial will be the foundation of a new Africa.

Ivory Coast deserves so much better than what it got these last years. Alassane Ouattara has a huge job ahead of him to rebuild and reconcile this big country with itself, with the help of the international community and France. He will need to be firm but generous with his opponents, and impose the same authority over his allies. Whether he shall fail or succeed in doing that will also be a test for the future of the continent. Because the stakes are so high, foreign countries have to continue supporting Ivory Coast and help it get back up on its feet economically, which is a priority.

France has played an essential role in Ivory Coast, despite being active in the Libyan war as well. It pulled its share of the weight despite a sometimes very stormy relationship with its former colony, and did everything necessary to promote international legality.

Accusations of a "neo-colonial conspiracy" can only be part of Gbagbo's propagandistic fantasies. Ouattara's victory at the polls has been recognized by the Organization of African Unity and by the Economic Community of West African States. No action has been taken without an explicit mandate from the United Nations; the Unicorn Operation, the French Armed Forces's peacekeeping operation, has only acted in support of the United Nations Operation in Ivory Coast.

Alain Le Roy, under secretary general for peacekeeping at the United Nations, deserves much credit for the way in which he has combined the United Nations' legitimacy with France's military capacity. This has allowed the international organization to restore its image and our country to resolve a major crisis.

Read the original article in French.

Photo - seneweb

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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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