Tuesday, June 10, 2014
UKRAINE TO CREATE HUMANITARIAN CORRIDORS
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced creation of “humanitarian corridors” for eastern Ukrainian civilians to leave areas where Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operation” in under way, Interfax reports. Human Rights Watch said it welcomed the decision, while leaders of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic expressed their mistrust at the move. Ukraine is due to pay a large chunk of its $4.46 billion gas debt to Moscow today amid threats from Russia that it could cut off its supply.
A German daredevil enjoys the wave of warm weather that hit most of Europe on Monday by diving into Lake Ammer, southwest of Munich.
FIGHTS RESUME NEAR KARACHI AIRPORT
A group of three or four Taliban gunmen launched a second attack on a security checkpost outside the Karachi airport in Pakistan, less than 48 hours after fights that killed at least 37 people at the site, including 10 of the attackers, The Express Tribune reports. This comes after the Pakistani military launched air strikes on suspected militant hideouts in response to yesterday’s attack, killing at least 15 Taliban fighters.
As Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Johannes Knuth writes, beloved professional soccer players are no strangers to depression, though there remains a stigma attached to the mental health problem. A recent survey of about 300 current and former professional players was particularly telling. “What emerged from the study is the fact that every third active player suffers from depression or anxiety, and the figure is around 40% overall for former professional players,” the journalist writes. “The sport is ‘littered with psychological cases,’ says study leader Vincent Gouttebarge.”
Read the full article, Soccer's Long-Ignored Depression Problem.
IRAQ REBELS SEIZE MOSUL
Fighters with al-Qaeda-linked group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have taken control of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, after a four-day fight with government troops, Al-Arabiya reports. The gunmen are said to have attacked a government building, armed with “rocket-propelled grenades, sniper rifles and heavy machine guns mounted on vehicles.” According to CNN, the rebels freed up to 1,000 prisoners as they stormed the city’s central prison and several police stations.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
ASSAD GRANTS GENERAL AMNESTY
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad decided to grant what state-backed news agency Sana describes as “general amnesty” for crimes committed before June 9. Under the decree, some death sentences will be commuted to life imprisonment, with reduced jail terms for others. Foreign militants fighting with the rebels will also receive amnesty if they surrender within a month. The New York Times notes, however, that “the government has offered amnesties before that did not lead to the release of the tens of thousands of people who human rights advocates say have been detained or imprisoned during the unrest in the country.” Meanwhile, Euronews reports that the country’s Tourism Ministry launched a campaign to convince tourists that “it’s safe to travel to tourist sites” despite ongoing fights in several parts of the country.
“Most leaders are quieter in person than they appear to be on stage. Not Sarkozy.” As she prepares for her likely presidential candidacy, Hillary Clinton's memoir Hard Choices is being released today. In some choice excerpts Monday, Politico noted that the former first lady did not spare the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy from her humorous observations.
FERRY CREW MURDER TRIAL OPENS
The trial of the sunken South Korean ferry crew opened this morning in the southern city of Gwangju, with the ship’s captain and three crew members facing death sentences after having been charged with murder, Yonhap news agency reports. Another 11 crew members are also standing trial. They are accused of abandoning the victims and violating a ship safety act during the disaster that killed at least 292 people, most of them high school students. Divers are still searching the ferry, with 12 bodies still missing.
To get all you Crunchers in the World Cup spirit, we’ve launched a special series with global coverage of the tournament. Plus, every day until the end of the games we’ll be playing a Copa Quiz on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Here’s the inaugural quiz. Do you know which country we’re talking about?
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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