Geopolitics

Kim Jong-Un's Uncle Executed, More On Syria Attacks, Child Euthanasia

Rare snow storm in Jerusalem
Rare snow storm in Jerusalem
Worldcrunch

KIM JONG-UN’S UNCLE EXECUTED
North Korea’s official news agency KCNA announced that Kim Jong-un’s uncle and mentor, considered the second most powerful man in the country until his recent dismissal, was executed yesterday. Official media branded Jang Song-thaek a “despicable human scum” guilty of leading a “depraved life.” Read the full announcement here.

CHEMICAL WEAPONS USED IN SYRIA SINCE AUG. 21

  • A United Nations report shows that chemical weapons were used at least five times over the past year in Syria, both before and after the infamous Aug. 21 attack near Damascus.

  • Although the report doesn’t assign responsibility for the attacks, Syrian soldiers were targeted on three occasions. Civilians were also victims in three of the five attacks. Read more from the BBC.

  • In a scathing briefing, Amnesty International accuses the EU of failing Syrian refugees. See what Secretary General Salil Shetty said.

U.S. HOUSE APPROVES BUDGET DEAL
The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bipartisan agreement on the federal budget for the next two years, The New York Times reports. The deal, however, does not address the issue of the debt ceiling, which must be raised again in the coming months to avoid a default.

EX-FBI AGENT IN IRAN WAS ON ROGUE CIA MISSION
Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007, was not just a private citizen as U.S. officials have been claiming but was in fact on an unapproved mission for the CIA, an Associated Press investigation reveals.

17 DEAD IN YEMEN DRONE ATTACK
At least 17 people were killed as two missiles fired in a U.S. drone attack in central Yemen targeted a wedding convoy, AFP reports. According to Yemeni security officials, only two of the victims were known as al-Qaeda members, while most of the dead were innocent civilians.

BELGIAN SENATE APPROVES CHILD EUTHANASIA
Belgian Senators voted overwhelmingly for a bill extending euthanasia access to terminally ill children, La Libre Belgique reports. Cécile Thibaut, a senator from Belgium’s Green Party, said the bill represented a “significant move forward.” The proposed legislation doesn’t set an age limit, merely stating that the child must be reasonably aware of the consequences of the request, which the parents must approve.

BY THE NUMBERS
Meet Austria’s new foreign minister, who is just 27 years old.

DRINK AND DRIVE
A Norwegian man was arrested for driving his wheelchair while drunk.

FOTO
An unusual snowfall in Jerusalem creates a winter wonderland in the holy land (see main picture).

LIFE ON EUROPA?
Images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show what appear to be giant water geysers on Jupiter’s moon Europa, raising hopes for possible signs of life.

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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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