Geopolitics

Pakistan's Drone-Free Month, Protests In C Major, Putin And Leopards

A masked protester plays the piano in front of Kiev's occupied City Hall
A masked protester plays the piano in front of Kiev's occupied City Hall
Worldcrunch

U.S. CURBS DRONE STRIKES IN PAKISTAN AMID PEACE TALKS
The United States has sharply reduced its drone strikes following a request from the Pakistani government, which is currently pursuing peace talks with the Taliban, The Washington Post quotes U.S. officials as saying. This does not, however, mark an end to such attacks to prevent imminent threats and those against known al-Qaeda targets. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, January was the first month without a drone strike in Pakistan in more than two years.

BAGHDAD BOMBINGS
At least 19 people were killed as three bombs exploded in the Iraqi capital, including two in front of the Foreign Ministry, Al Arabiya reports. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in January alone, as sectarian violence continues to spread.

PROTESTS IN C MAJOR
Protests continue in Kiev as EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton returns to Kiev to search for a political solution to the months-long stand-off between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition.

TALKS OVER EXTENSION OF PANAMA CANAL BREAK DOWN
Negotiatons between the Panama Canal Authority and Spanish-led building consortium GUPC for a $5.2 billion project to extend the canal have collapsed, the Financial Times reports. According to the consortium, this puts up to 10,000 jobs “at immediate risk.” The 48-mile Canal, which celebrates this year its 100th anniversary, is one of the most important shipping routes in the world connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA AGREE ON FAMILY REUNIONS
The authorities of North and South Korea have agreed to revive reunions of families separated by the Korean War for the first time since October 2010, The Korea Times reports. The next reunions will take place between February 20 and 25 at the Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea.

NOT JUST MERKEL: NSA ALSO SPIED ON SCHROEDER
The U.S.’s National Security Agency began its eavesdropping on the German Chancellor more than 10 years ago, when Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder was still in office, newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reveals. According to the report, the NSA decided to monitor his mobile phone following his opposition to the war in Iraq.

THE LEOPARD WHISPERER
Check out the latest proof of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s undying love for all things furry.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

SCOTLAND LEGALIZES GAY MARRIAGE
The Scottish Parliament voted yesterday to follow in the footsteps of England and Wales and legalize same-sex marriage, The Scotsman reports. The legislation includes an “opt-in” system, meaning that religious bodies will not be forced to conduct them. The first gay marriages in the country are expected to take place later this year

GOAT GTA
Ever thought about what it’s like to be a goat? This video game simulates a day in the 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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