Geopolitics

Still Fed Up, Spain’s “Indignados” Movement Finds Its Second Wind

In a second phase of their “indignant” protests, Spanish demonstrators call for an end to the “dictatorship of the financial markets” and let it be known the movement is here to stay.

A May 29 indignados protest in Madrid, Spain
A May 29 indignados protest in Madrid, Spain
Sandrine Morel

MADRID – "From the North to the South, from the East to the West, the struggle goes on, come what may." Spain's "indignados' – a loosely defined group of "indignant" protestors – have been singing this slogan since their movement began in mid-May.

Two months later, these words are still ringing from the rooftops in Spain, where the indignados continue to make their presence felt. Last month, hundreds of protestors set out from some 25 different cities on long marches to Madrid. Blistered but smiling, the indignados descended upon the capital this past weekend. On Sunday they gathered for what is being heralded as their third massive demonstration.

The indignados began their long marches June 19 as part of their overall fight to end the "dictatorship of the financial markets and political corruption." For more than a month they trekked along the roads of Galicia, Andalusia, Catalonia, Basque Country and Castile to spread their message in the various towns and villages they passed.

Many of the demonstrators are students, but there are also unemployed workers, a few retirees, fathers with their children, minors, teachers, seniors, middle-aged people and teens. All of them fed up with the status quo, the protestors also share a common urge to change the world – and a willingness to walk up to 600 kilometers to do so.

Organizers came up with the idea of the long-distance marches during a meeting that took place in early June, at a time when groups of indignados had set up encampments in several of Spain's principal cities. They defined the marches as an "initiative of social and pacific mobilization rooted in the constructive, democratic and open May 15 movement." Marchers are hoping to keep protesting throughout the summer.

In total, the indignados divided themselves into eight different hiking groups, which made their way through about 30 Spanish cities and villages. At night, the marchers organized meetings, inviting local residents to share their indignation with current conditions in Spain.

In Madrid they were welcomed Friday by thousands of locally-based indignados, many of them participants in the June 13 encampments in the city's main La Puerta del Sol plaza. The weary hikers were treated to massages and given guest of honor treatment in several large parties.

Past midnight, after exchanging a month's worth of adventures, the indignados launched their traditional mute scream and put up their tents in La Puerta del Sol and along El Paseo del Prado. Over the next two days the gatherers participated in debates, listened to speeches and gathered in meetings to organize mobilization strategies for the Autumn.

The indigandos' next major gathering is scheduled for Oct. 15, when they hope to lead a day of national protest. The slogan for the planned event is "Europe is for the citizens, not for the markets." By all accounts, the indignados have gained their second wind.

Read the original article in French

Photo - uchiuska

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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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