South Sudan Ferry Tragedy, Egypt Referendum, Lost Johnny Cash Song

A man carries a child in the floodwaters that have hit Jakarta this week.
A man carries a child in the floodwaters that have hit Jakarta this week.

Between 200 and 300 people are believed to have drowned in a ferry accident on the White Nile river, AFP reports an army spokesman as saying. The civilians were trying to flee from the town of Malakal where there is intense fighting, but the boat was overcrowded.

Egyptians are voting across the country today and tomorrow in a referendum on a new constitution, Al Jazeera reports. The government, which expects the constitution to be approved, has set up a massive security operation to prevent disruptions, with some 200,000 security forces deployed. Still, a man was killed this morning in clashes outside a polling station in Cairo, while a courthouse in the capital was hit by an explosion. Read more from The Guardian.

Anti-government protesters in Thailand are continuing their “Bangkok shutdown” and today extended their blockade to ministries and bank branches, The Bangkok Post reports. Suthep Thaugsuban, one of the movement’s leaders and head of opposition party PDRC, warned that the protests would intensify and that they could take ministers into custody.

Congressional negotiators reached agreement yesterday on a spending bill worth $1.1 trillion, The Washington Post reports. While providing the federal government with funding until the end of September, the bill reverses some of the spending cuts that were approved last month and gives a 1% raise to all federal workers.

Floodwaters have hit Indonesia's capital, and several thousand Jakarta residents have been displaced, though rains appear to be subsiding.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s call for the country to halt executions during a joint press conference Monday. Read here what he had to say.

Chechnya is rewarding parents with $1,000 in cash for naming newborns after the Prophet “Muhammad,” Islam’s founder.

A previously unreleased album recorded by Johnny Cash in the early 1980s has been found and will go on sale March 25. A first excerpt has already been published online, a beautiful love song entitled “She Used to Love Me A Lot.”

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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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