Yom Hashoa – Gedenktag für die Opfer und Helden des Holocaust

April 30, 2008

Heute Abend beginnt Yom Hashoa, Israels nationaler Gedenktag für die Opfer des Holocaust und die Helden des Widerstandes. Er wird jedes Jahr nach dem hebräischen Kalender am 27. Nissan begangen.

Ursprünglich war als Datum der 15. Nissan vorgeschlagen worden, der Tag des Aufstands im Warschauer Ghetto (19. April 1943). Dieser Vorschlag wurde aber schließlich verworfen, da zum selben Zeitpunkt das Pessach-Fest stattfindet. Das jetzige Datum liegt genau eine Woche vor dem Gedenktag an die für den Staat Israel gefallenen Soldaten und acht Tage vor dem israelischen Unabhängigkeitstag. 1959 wurde Yom Hashoa vom ersten Ministerpräsidenten des Staates Israel, David Ben-Gurion, eingeführt.

Zur Eröffnungszeremonie am Abend werden in der Jerusalemer Holocaust-Gedenkstätte  Yad Vashem sechs  Fackeln entzündet, die symbolisch für die sechs Millionen jüdischer Opfer stehen. Am nächsten Morgen heulen im gesamten Land um 10 Uhr für zwei Minuten die Sirenen. Der öffentliche Nahverkehr und normalerweise auch alle anderen Fahrzeuge halten an, die Passanten bleiben schweigend stehen.

Während des Gedenktages Yom Hashoa bleiben alle Vergnügungsstätten geschlossen, im Funk und Fernsehen laufen keine Unterhaltungssendungen, sondern Trauermusik und Dokumentationen zum Holocaust. Alle Flaggen wehen auf Halbmast.

Advertisements

Freedom of the Press 2008 Survey Release

April 29, 2008

Freedom House‘s 2008 report on press freedom shows a clear decline in both authoritarian countries and established democracies.

PRESS RELEASE

Washington D.C., April 29, 2008 – Global press freedom underwent a clear decline in 2007, with journalists struggling to work in increasingly hostile environments in almost every region in the world, according to a new survey released today by Freedom House. The decline in press freedom – which occurred in authoritarian countries and established democracies alike – continues a six-year negative trend.

Freedom House will formally present findings from Freedom of the Press 2008: A Global Survey of Media Independence today at the Newseum in Washington. Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor will also unveil the Map of Press Freedom 2008, a central exhibit featured in the Newseum’s Time Warner World News Gallery.

While the survey indicated that setbacks in press freedom outnumbered advances two to one globally, there was some improvement in the region with the least amount of press freedom: the Middle East and North Africa. The survey attributes the gains in the Middle East and North Africa to a growing number of journalists who were willing to challenge government restraints, a pushback trend seen in other regions as well.

“For every step forward in press freedom last year, there were two steps back,” said Windsor. “When press freedom is in retreat, it is an ominous sign that restrictions on other freedoms may soon follow. However, journalists in many countries of the world are pushing the boundaries, crossing the red-lines, demonstrating commitment and courage against great odds and we are seeing a greater global flow of information than ever before.”

Out of 195 countries and territories, 72 (37 percent) were rated Free, 59 (30 percent) Partly Free, and 64 (33 percent) were Not Free, a decline from 2006. However, the study found that declines in individual countries and territories were often larger than in years past.   Key regional findings include:   

  • Central and Eastern Europe/ Former Soviet Union: This region showed the largest region-wide setback, with Russia, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan, and several Central European countries, among others, showing declines. Only 18 percent of the region’s citizens live in environments with Free media.
  • Middle East and North Africa:  More unrestricted access to new media such as satellite television and the internet boosted press freedom regionally. Egyptian journalists showed an increased willingness to cross press freedom ‘red lines,’ moving the country into the Partly Free category.
  • Asia-Pacific: Restrictions on media coverage were imposed in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, and Vietnam’s government cracked down on dissident writers.
  • Americas: Guyana’s status shifted from Free to Partly Free, while Mexico’s score deteriorated by a further three points because of increased violence against journalists and impunity surrounding attacks on media.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: The region accounted for three of the year’s five status changes: Benin declined from Free to Partly Free, while the Central African Republic and Niger moved into the Not Free category. Political conflict and misuse of libel laws were key factors behind a number of country declines.
  • Western Europe: The region continued to have the highest level of press freedom worldwide, despite declines in Portugal, Malta and Turkey, the only country in the region ranked Partly Free.

The survey, released annually in advance of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, assesses the degree of print, broadcast, and internet freedom in every country in the world. The 2008 ratings are based on an assessment of the legal, political and economic environments in which journalists worked in 2007.  

“Improvements in a small number of countries were far overshadowed by a continued, relentless assault on independent news media,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Freedom House senior researcher and managing editor of the survey.

“We are particularly concerned that while abuses of press freedom continue unabated in restrictive environments such as China, threats are also apparent in countries with an established record of media freedom and in newer democracies in Central Europe and Africa.”

The key trends that led to numerical movements in the study include:  

  • Unrest and Upheaval: Media played a key role in covering coups, states of emergency and contested elections in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Georgia, and as a result, journalists became prime targets during government crackdowns.
  • Violence and Impunity: Violence against journalists and, in many cases, corresponding impunity regarding past cases of abuse was a key factor in determining press freedom in countries as diverse as Mexico, Russia and the Philippines.
  • Punitive laws: Media freedom remains seriously constrained by the presence and use of numerous laws that are used to punish critical journalists and outlets.The abuse of libel laws increased in a number of countries, most notably in Africa. Satellite television and internet-based news and networking sources are an emerging force for openness in restricted media environments as well as a key target for government control.
  • New media: The world’s worst-rated countries continue to include Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, and Turkmenistan. In 2007, Eritrea joined the ranks of these exceedingly bad performers, while a crackdown in Burma worsened that country’s already repressive media environment, leaving its score second only to that of North Korea worldwide.

Detailed information from the survey are available here and by contacting Laura Ingalls at ingalls@freedomhouse.org.


UN Arms-for-Gold Scandal

April 29, 2008

Rwanda is calling for the United Nations to investigate allegations that the UN peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo was selling arms to rebels in the region in exchange for minerals.

Read full story.


Italien – die zerrüttete Republik

April 29, 2008

Den Völkern schadet vielmehr die Habsucht der eigenen Bürger als die Raubgier der Feinde. Dieser läßt sich bisweilen ein Ziel setzen, jener aber nicht. (Niccolò Machiavelli)

In der Frankfurter Rundschau prophezeit der Soziologe und Italien-Experte Peter Wagner eine ziemlich düstere Zukunft für Italien nach der Rückkehr von Silvio Berlusconi an die Macht. Und resümiert, dass jedes Volk die Herrscher hat, die es verdient.

Francesco Guicciardini wünschte sich, noch erleben zu dürfen, dass sein Land sich zu einem wohl geordneten republikanischen Gemeinwesen entwickelt. Der Florentiner Zeitgenosse Niccolò Machiavellis ahnte aber, dass seine Lebenszeit dafür zu begrenzt sein würde. Er war auch generell allen Illusionen abgeneigt und hielt die Zukunft für wenig vorhersehbar. Insbesondere sah er die Demokratie als eine zu zerbrechliche Regierungsform an, die leicht ein Land in den Ruin treiben könnte. […] Guicciardini meinte, dass Bürger immer vom Streben nach ihrem ‘Besonderen’ angetrieben würden. Ihre persönlichen Interessen an Besitz oder Ruhm würden sie vor den Erhalt des Gemeinsamen stellen. Aus diesem Grunde sei Fortschritt in der Entwicklung von Republik und Demokratie niemals gewiss. Die italienischen Wahlen haben dies nachdrücklich bestätigt.”

Zum Artikel.


Rising financial protectionism

April 29, 2008

The Wall Street Journal reports on how rising nationalism has provoked a trade backlash and may hinder global environmental negotiations.

“Some of the world’s biggest new investors are government-run investment funds. In the Middle East and Russia, sovereign wealth funds are powered by oil revenue; in Asia, they’re fed by other export earnings. In all, the funds have a total of $3 trillion in revenue and have used the money to buy stakes in Citigroup Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and other battered Wall Street firms. While the infusions have been lauded by the U.S. Treasury and capital-short Wall Street firms, they also aroused suspicions here and internationally that the investors could have political agendas.

Now, many national governments are raising barriers against such foreign investment. The U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Hungary and Greece are proposing or enacting restrictions on investment by state-owned firms from other countries, according to a forthcoming study by the Council of Foreign Relations. China and Russia, which have sovereign wealth funds, are staking out ‘strategic sectors’ where foreign investment would be restricted, say the study’s authors, investment-law specialist David Marchick and Dartmouth economist Matthew Slaughter.”

Read full story.


UN Hears from Jewish Refugees of Arab Lands

April 28, 2008

The history of Palestinian refugees deserves international attention. So does the history of one million Jewish refugees from the Arab-Israel conflict.  Yet the United Nations has devoted countless resolutions and debates to only one side of this story, completely ignoring the other.

For the first time ever in the UN Human Rights Council, at its recently concluded session, the suffering of Jewish refugees from Arab lands was also placed on the international agenda. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Congress adopted a historic resolution recognizing that all victims of the conflict must be treated equally.

Racism and Historical Truth: Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands

UN Watch Oral Statement

Agenda Item 9: Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Racism Doudou Diène

UN Human Rights Council, 7th Session, March 19, 2008

Delivered by Regina Bublil Waldman

Thank you, Mr. President.

We thank the Special Rapporteur for his work against racism, and address two areas of his report.

Dr. Diene, in Addendum 1 you mention Libya’s treatment of ethnic minorities. In Addenda 3 and 4, you envision a multicultural society based on two principles: respect for historical truth and non-discrimination against minorities.

As a victim of Libyan discrimination, I agree: only with historical truth can we build a better future.

Today I wear my traditional ethnic dress to celebrate my heritage, but also to mourn its destruction.

One million Jews lived in the Middle East at the turn of the century. Today, less than five thousand remain.

Their plight has been ignored by the international community.

Their story is my story.

In 1948, there were thirty-six thousand Jews living in Libya. Today, there are none.

During the 1967 war between Israel and her Arab neighbors, mobs took to the streets and shouted, “Edbah el Yehud!” – “Slaughter the Jews!”

They burned my father’s warehouse and came to burn our home.

An honorable Muslim neighbor stopped them, and saved our lives.

The government ordered the expulsion of all Jews from Libya, where my family had lived for hundreds of years. They confiscated our homes and all our assets.

We were given this one-way travel document – never allowed to return.

My family was put on a bus to the airport. The bus driver got out, and tried to burn the bus with us in it. We were rescued from death by two Christian friends.

I come here today bearing no hatred — only these historical truths:

  • Jews have been an indigenous people of the Middle East for over 2,500 years.
  • On the basis of race and religion, Arab regimes subjected Jews to arbitrary arrest, confiscation of property and expulsions. This is fully documented in this report by Justice for Jews from Arab Countries.
  • The UNHCR has ruled that Jews fleeing from Arab countries were ‘bona fide’ refugees, victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Dr. Diene, your report envisions a future of tolerance and equality. Applying the principles you set forth, we trust you will examine the actions of Libya and other Middle Eastern countries that forced out their Jewish minorities.

Like in South Africa, only the acknowledgment of truth and history will lead to reconciliation.

Thank you, Mr. President.


The French Military Revolution

April 28, 2008

Newsweek International reports on France’s success in using small combat units to partner with different international military alliances.

“A year into his first term, in fact, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is using his warm relations with Washington and his military’s strong record fighting in Africa and the Balkans to help re-establish France publicly and formally as a leading player in NATO, more than four decades after President Charles de Gaulle pulled out of the alliance’s integrated command and kicked its offices out of Paris. At the same time, he’s working to put France at the fore of a separate European Union defense force and extend its influence eastward to the Persian Gulf and South Asia. And if France really wants to project itself on the world stage this way, well, it couldn’t happen at a better time. U.S. forces are stretched thin, and there are only a handful of other armies with the training, the bases, the organization and, most important, the political will to kill and die in far corners of the planet to keep local wars from emerging into global threats. The shortlist includes the Brits-and the French, and that’s about it.”

Read full story.