MH17 Crash Doubts, Fear Index, Coca-Cola vs. French Puppets

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site in eastern Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site in eastern Ukraine.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Moscow and Kiev are accusing each other of being responsible for the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 yesterday in eastern Ukraine, with 298 people on board, most of them Dutch. All sides agree on the fact that the aircraft was hit by a missile while flying at 33,000 feet high (over 10,000 meters).

Kiev accused pro-rebel fighters in the area, releasing what it says are intercepted phone conversations between separatist leaders saying they shot the plane down. Rebels denied they possessed weaponry capable of shooting a target that high. The Russian Defense Ministry meanwhile said Russian military equipment “detected” the presence of a Ukrainian Buk anti-aircraft missile battery around the area where the plane crashed.

Indian news website Firstpost says the flight history of the aircraft, visible online, shows the plane “took a slight deviation from its planned route,” causing it to fly over Ukraine. Other airlines had reportedly changed their regular routes recently to avoid the region because of security concerns.

Other sources said there was a possibility that Vladimir Putin, whose presidential plane flew around the same time in the area, could have been the real target of the attack.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting today, amid calls from all global leaders for an international investigation.

At least 181 bodies have been recovered so far. Yesterday’s disaster was particularly shocking for one family in Australia, which is now believed to have lost family members in both the shooting down of MH17 and the mystery disappearance of MH370 in March.


Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had given instructions to “prepare for the possibility of significantly widening the ground operation” launched yesterday in Gaza, Reuters reports. According to Ma’an news agency, at least 27 Palestinians have been killed since the ground operation began, including a five-month old baby, as Israeli tanks opened fire. A total of 264 Palestinians have died in the 11 days of Operation “Protective Edge.” A 20-year-old Israeli soldier was also killed in fights in northern Gaza and Haaretz wrote that the IDF was investigating whether he could have been victim of “friendly fire.” In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said the organization won’t agree to a ceasefire until Israel “stops the aggression” and “ends the siege on Gaza permanently.”


More than 90 people have died in armed battles as members of ISIS seized an important gas field in central Syria,Al-Arabiya reports, citing the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. According to the organization’s director, the attack was the “most important so far” against Bashar al-Assad and his government. Fighting on the site is still ongoing. The United Nations meanwhile said that at least 5,576 civilians had been killed since January in Iraq, where ISIS has expanded its stronghold over the past few weeks.


Coca-Cola’s Christmas 2012 advertisement features a gigantic Santa Claus that was inspired by famous French giant characters. Le Monde’s Sandrine Blanchard reports on the theater company behind the iconic puppets that's fighting for its soul: “Jacques Leroy, president of Royal de Luxe, sees the case against Coca-Cola as a matter of principle. ‘This looks like a fight of David against Goliath, but we do not want to let this story go,’ he said. ‘It is a moral question.’ In January 2013, authorities seized from within Coca-Cola’s computers email exchanges that the theatre company says prove their case. These emails, to which Le Monde had access, clearly show that Coca-Cola and its advertising agencies (especially McCann Erickson) wanted to create a Santa Claus in the style of Royal de Luxe. They summarily rejected the offer, in writing.”
Read the full article, Giant French Puppets vs. Coca-Cola In "Parasitic" Copyright Case.


People on the Chinese island of Hainan are bracing themselves as Rammasun, the typhoon that killed 38 people in the Philippines, is expected to make landfall. Rammasun has however strengthened and is now considered a super typhoon, with winds reaching 216 km per hour at its center, making it the strongest to hit the tourist site in 40 years, Xinhua explains.


126 countries are commemorating the fifth annual Mandela Day, the first one since the Nobel Prize winner’s death last winter. As people around the world are encouraged to do good deeds in memory of Madiba, Google dedicated today’s doodle to the former South African leader, who would have turned 96 today.

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan had some strong words about what is happening in Gaza, and it wasn’t only Israel that he blamed.

The Volatility Index, also known as Wall Street's "Fear Index", shot up 32% Thursday. The rise followed news of a Malaysian plane crashing in Eastern Ukraine and Israel launching a ground offensive in Gaza.

Famously frank Broadway actress Elaine Stritch died at the age of 89.

Basically no one slept in London last night, as a freak electrical storm boomed and charged into town. Check out this collection of photos.

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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


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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