Geopolitics

Khodorkovsky In Kiev, California Quake, N. Korea's "Supreme MP"

Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks in Kiev's Maidan Square
Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks in Kiev's Maidan Square
Worldcrunch

UK-GERMANY THREATEN RUSSIA WITH MORE SANCTIONS
British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have reached common ground on the issue of the Crimean referendum, scheduled for next Sunday, by saying that Russia faced further consequences if it attempted to legitimize the vote, The Guardian reports.

  • In a phone conversation with Cameron, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed it was in everybody’s interest that the situation stabilized in Ukraine and said he was open to a diplomatic resolution, AFP reports. But according to RT, he explained that Crimea had the right to secede, as the decision to hold a referendum was “based on international law and aimed at guaranteeing the legitimate interests of the peninsula’s population.”

  • Former President Viktor Yanukovych is due to speak publicly tomorrow from the Russian town of Rostov-on-Don, where he already gave a news conference two weeks ago, Interfax reports. Ukraine’s Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk has said he will travel to Washington Wednesday for “top-level meetings,” USA Today reports.

  • Former Russian oil tycoon and Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky appeared before thousands of people in Kiev's Maidan Square, telling the crowd that “Russian propaganda is lying as always” and accused Russia of being an accomplice in police violence against protesters. See our Snapshot here.

  • MISSING MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT
    The search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and its 239 passengers has entered its third day after the aircraft vanished en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur early Saturday. Speaking at a press conference, Malaysia’s civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the event was an “unprecedented mystery” that was leaving officials “puzzled,” as no object from the plane has been found so far. Search teams from nine countries are working to find any trace of evidence.

  • Earlier today, Vietnam sent helicopters to check a “yellow object” it thought could be a life raft floating in its waters, but it turned out to be the “moss-covered cap of a cable reel,” Reuters reports.

  • Interpol yesterday confirmed that two passengers had boarded the flight with stolen passports, in what appears to suggest the possibility of a terrorist hijacking, but a source close to the investigation said there was no evidence of foul play yet.

  • Follow The Guardian’s liveblog for the latest updates.

CALIFORNIA HIT BY EARTHQUAKE
A magnitude 6.9 earthquake off the coastal Northern California town of Eureka shook the U.S. west coast from San Francisco to South Oregon Sunday night, The Los Angeles Times reports. According to the Eureka police, no injuries have yet been reported. A few hours earlier, a magnitude 5.8 quake hit the southern Pacific coast of Mexico.

PALESTINIAN SHOT DEAD AT BORDER WITH JORDAN
A Palestinian man was shot dead by an Israeli soldier at the Allenby Bridge crossing, a terminal that marks the border between the West Bank and Jordan, after he allegedly attempted to seize the soldier’s weapon, Haaretz reports. According to Ma’an news agency, the man was from the West Bank town of Nablus and had left the occupied territory in 2011.

TALIBAN VOW TO TARGET AFGHAN ELECTION
The Taliban pledged today to disrupt next month’s presidential election in Afghanistan and urged its fighters to attack “all workers, activists, callers, security apparatus and offices,”AFP reported, quoting an official statement. During the last election in 2009, 57 people were killed on polling day alone.

NUNS KIDNAPPED IN SYRIA’S MALOULA FREED
Jihadist fighters for the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra front have released 13 Lebanese and Syrian nuns who had been kidnapped in the historic Christian town of Maaloula, in southwest Syria, The Daily Star reports. AFP quotes the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying that the nuns were freed in exchange for the liberation of some 150 women held in Syrian jails.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD

BY THE NUMBERS
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was re-elected to the country’s parliament with 100% of the vote. (In case you were wondering, he was the only candidate, per North Korean politics.) Read more from AP.

MUSIC TO YOUR EARS
If you’re adept of listening to music at work, you might have found that it can sometimes affect your productivity. But it doesn’t have to be that way, as this Quartz guide to listening to music at work illustrates.

VERBATIM
“I couldn’t think of anything more I’d need from a life partner,” British divorcee Amanda Rodgers said … upon marrying her dog. Read more from Metro UK.

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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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