"Last week, Cologne mayor Henriette Reker received a raucous tongue-lashing on social media after suggesting that it is German women’s collective responsibility to prevent sexual assaults by remaining an “arm’s length” away from would-be assailants.
Reker’s remarks came as the international media suddenly woke up to the string of sexual assaults that allegedly took place in Cologne’s city center during New Year’s Eve celebrations. The incidents purportedly involved gangs of “Arabs” harassing and groping German women during the festivities.
Hundreds of such attacks were reported in Germany and elsewhere across the bloc and before you knew it, a scandal was born. Some say authorities have been reluctant to publicize the assaults for fear of triggering a dangerous backlash against the millions of refugees who have fled to Western Europe from the war-torn Mid-East. Indeed, it now appears Sweden knew that these types of attacks were taking place as far back as last summer but between the media and police, failed to publicize the “problem.”
Reker’s comments - combined with her contention that Germany needs to “explain to people from other cultures that the jolly and frisky attitude during Carnival is not a sign of sexual openness” - seemed to suggest she was at least partially blaming the victims for the attacks. Even is she wasn’t, the idea that it’s incumbent upon women to change their behavior rather than incumbent upon men not to assault them is patently absurd.
Well, German women aren’t the only ones who are being encouraged by officials to alter their “behavior” in order to avoid becoming victims because as AFP reported earlier today, Jews in Marseille are now being told not to wear the kippa in the streets.
That piece of advice comes from Zvi Ammar, the head of the Marseille Jews in the wake of an attack on a worshipper at the Marseille synagogue on Monday.
For those who may have missed it, Binyamin Amsalem, a teacher, was minding his own business yesterday when a teenager waving a machete and allegedly shouting “Allahu Akbar” ran at him. Amsalem defended himself with a copy of the Torah he was carrying and sustained a “light” injury:
"Not wearing the kippa can save lives and nothing is more important," Zvi Ammar told La Provence daily. "It really hurts to reach that point but I don't want anyone to die in Marseille because they have a kippa on their head."
"France's Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia urged Jews in France to continue wearing the kippa and form a 'united front'", Reuters notes, adding that "Roger Cukierman, head of the French Jewish organization umbrella group, said not wearing the kippa in public was "a defeatist attitude".
So taking this together with Reker's advice for German women, we suppose the message here is that if you want to avoid being attacked in Europe it's your responsibility to stay a safe distance away from anyone who looks like they might be prepared to grope you or hack at you with a machete and try your best not to look outwardly religious.
Or perhaps, just as Reker says Europe needs to "explain" to people from other cultures that sexual assault isn't acceptable, the bloc also needs to explain that axe murder is equally, if not more repugnant. "