31 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Roni Alsheich condemned for comments, which come against backdrop of complaints by Ethiopian Jews over how their community is policed

Israelis of Ethiopian origin protest against alleged racism and police aggression in April 2015

Israelis of Ethiopian origin protest against alleged racism and police aggression in April 2015. Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA

Israel’s most senior police officer has provoked outrage by suggesting it is “natural” for officers to suspect Israelis of Ethiopian origin – as well as Arabs – of being more involved in crime than other Jews.

Roni Alsheich, Israel’s police commissioner, made the comments in response to a question at a conference of the Israeli bar association, suggesting more widely that research worldwide showed that “young people and immigrants” were disproportionately involved in crime.

His remarks come against a growing background of complaints by Ethiopian Jews over policing of their community – including accusations of crude profiling – which has led to recent street protests.

Asked about allegations of Israeli police violence against Ethiopians, Alsheich said: “In all criminological studies around the world it is proven that immigrants are more involved in crime than others, and this should not surprise us.

“In addition, all studies prove that young people are more involved in crime. When these two things converge, a situation is created in which a particular community is involved in crime.

“This was the case in all the waves of immigration [to Israel]. When there is a community that is more involved in crime – also with regard to Arabs or East Jerusalem, and the statistics are known – when a police officer meets a suspect, naturally enough his mind suspects him more than if he were someone else. That is natural.”

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France’s burkini bans have put what women wear under scrutiny. Five Muslim women tell us why they choose to cover up, or dress modestly at the beach

Nesrine Kenza says she is happy to be free to wear a burkini as she holidays in Marseille, France.

Nesrine Kenza says she is happy to be free to wear a burkini as she holidays in Marseille, France. Photograph: AP

France’s highest administrative court suspended a ban on the burkini in a test case in a southern town of Nice, yet the majority of mayors who support the ban are refusing to lift the restrictions despite the ruling.

Lawyers argued that the bans were feeding fear and infringing on basic freedoms, but resistance from more than 20 mayors has left France in a dilemma about how to react.

Around 40 demonstrators gathered outside the French embassy in London on Thursday, for a ‘wear what you want’ beach party to protest the ban. Woman held flags and banners reading ‘Islamophobia is not freedom’, and ‘Our choice’.

Aheda Zanetti, the garment’s creator, says it isn’t something to be mistaken for oppression, or a symbol of Islam. “It’s just a garment to suit a modest person, or someone who has skin cancer, or a new mother who doesn’t want to wear a bikini” she says.

We asked women to tell us why they wear the burkini or dress modestly at the beach, and what it means to them.

‘I am a Muslim woman and I am proud to be recognised as one’

We live in a very materialistic society where people are very shallow and conscious about their appearance. I dress this way because it’s a commandment from All?h, I am a Muslim women and I am proud to be recognised as one. Regardless of what people think.

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Human rights groups say UN needs to restore trust after the Guardian revealed contracts had been awarded to agencies linked to Bashar al-Assad

London Syria ConferenceUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks as Prime Minister David Cameron (left) looks on during the ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, is facing calls to intervene to restore Syrians’ confidence in the organisation. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/PA

The United Nations is under increasing pressure to set up an independent inquiry into its Syria aid programme after a Guardian investigation found contracts worth tens of millions of dollars have been awarded to people closely associated with the president, Bashar al-Assad.

Former UN officials, diplomats, lawyers, and the head of Human Rights Watch (HRW) are among those who have raised serious concerns about the way Damascus appears to be directing the aid effort and benefiting from some of these deals.

Salman Shaikh, a Middle East specialist who has worked for the UN, said it was time for the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, to intervene. “It’s as serious as that,” he added.

The UN says its work has saved millions of lives. But it concedes it can only stay in Syria with the approval of Assad, who has restricted which partners its agencies are able to work with.

“Our choices in Syria are limited by a highly insecure context where finding companies and partners who operate in besieged and hard to reach areas is extremely challenging,” a UN spokesman said.

Analysis by the Guardian revealed UN agencies have been awarding substantial contracts to Syrian government departments and Syrian businessmen whose companies are under US and EU sanctions.

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Trade minister blames lack of progress on US intransigence and the president François Hollande said France would not support a deal this year

A no entry sign against the TTIP free trade agreement in Frankfurt, Germany.

A sign against the TTIP free trade agreement in Frankfurt, Germany. Photograph: Ralph Orlowski/Reuters

France’s trade minister has increased the pressure on the proposed EU-US trade deal by calling for the talks to be called off.

Matthias Fekl, the French minister for foreign trade, tweeted that his government demanded negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) should cease.

François Hollande, the French president, also raised doubts about TTIP and said France would not support a deal this year.

In a speech to French ambassadors, Hollande said: “The negotiations are bogged down, positions have not been respected, it’s clearly unbalanced.” He said he would withhold support from any agreement reached before the end of Barack Obama’s presidency in January.

France has been sceptical about TTIP from the start and has threatened to block the deal, arguing the US has offered little in return for concessions made by Europe. All 28 EU member states and the European parliament will have to ratify TTIP before it comes into force.

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Chicago’s police superintendent filed administrative charges against five officers, including Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald 16 times at close range

Protesters engage with Chicago police after the release of the 2014 video of Laquan McDonald being shot by Jason Van Dyke.

Protesters engage with Chicago police after the release of the 2014 video of Laquan McDonald being shot by Jason Van Dyke. Photograph: ZUMA Wire/REX Shutterstock

Top police brass in Chicago continued their push on Tuesday to fire multiple officers involved in the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

Police superintendent Eddie Johnson filed administrative charges against five officers, including Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald 16 times at close range in 2014. Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder in McDonald’s death. He has pleaded not guilty.

All five officers lied in police reports or to investigators about McDonald’s death, according to the charges filed by Johnson. Four of the officers face additional misconduct charges for their handling of police dashboard cameras. The cases will proceed through a multi-step review by the Chicago police board, an independent civilian body. The initial status hearing for these cases is scheduled for 19 September.

In addition to Van Dyke, Johnson is seeking to fire Sgt Stephen Franko, officer Janet Mondragon, officer Daphne Sebastian and officer Ricardo Viramontes.

The city’s inspector general had previously released a report recommending that Van Dyke and nine additional officers be fired for misconduct during and after the teenager’s death. At least two of those ten officers have already retired and Johnson said he disagreed with the recommendation to fire one of the officers.

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US politics

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The former New York mayor has always had a penchant for bluster, but a recent string of controversial statements is all about one thing: securing his legacy


‘Rudy Giuliani wasn’t a great mayor, or even a good one.’ Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

What’s happening to Rudy Giuliani?

On Monday, he slammed Beyoncé’s VMA performance, calling it a “shame” and boasting “I saved more black lives than any of those people you saw onstage.” On Tuesday, USA Today published an op-ed by Giuliani where he gave a veneer of mainstream media respectability to the idea that Hillary Clinton is hiding grave medical issues — despite the fact that there’s no evidence for this beyond wishful thinking on the part of the alt-right.

In the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York, Giuliani was dubbed “America’s Mayor.” Now, from his fiery convention speech to his specious claim that there were no terrorist attacks in the eight years before President Obama’s election, the former New York City mayor often seems to make pronouncements that are divorced from reality.

But that’s not new. That’s Rudy Giuliani. As New Yorkers learned early on his administration as mayor in 1990s, Giuliani has always had a penchant for bluster, for taking credit from his subordinates, and for an authoritarian single-mindedness. No wonder he’s stumping for Donald Trump.

I can’t say I envy him as he tries to secure his legacy. Being America’s Mayor is an impossible act to follow, and leading New York City has long been considered the “second toughest job in America.” By implication, there’s only one step up — the White House — and in 2007, Giuliani threw his hat into the presidential ring. Riding on his post-9/11 fame, Giuliani was an early favorite, but after dismal results in the early primaries, he withdrew in January 2008.

Was his failure merely due to the fact that no New York City mayor has ever bridged the gap from City Hall to the Oval Office? Or was there something more in Giuliani’s brash personality and his law-and-order mentality that couldn’t make the transition to a national audience?

Giuliani rose to national prominence when America was reeling from the 9/11 attacks. And, as lawyer Ron Kuby points out in the documentary “Giuliani Time,” in a crisis people are looking for a powerful authority figure. But what about the other eight years of his mayoralty? Most people realize that works in a crisis isn’t necessarily appropriate at other times — but that never stopped Giuliani. To him, New York had always been under attack.

At the beginning of his first term, Giuliani gave a chilling speech in which he said, “freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.”

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