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German authorities have apprehended two teenagers, aged 15 and 16, under suspicion of planning a militant Islamist attack on either a Christmas market or synagogue. The younger individual, a German-Afghan from Burscheid, was taken into custody after a search of his residence, while the 16-year-old, described as a Russian national, was detained in Wittstock/Dosse. The alleged seriousness of the plot prompted police intervention, as the boys had specified a time and place for the potential attack.

The targeted location initially mentioned in reports was Cologne, southwest of Burscheid, but subsequent information suggested it might be the nearby city of Leverkusen. The suspects had reportedly exchanged information on the Telegram messaging app, discussing the use of homemade incendiary devices or a van to carry out their plans. The arrests come amid concerns about a heightened risk of Islamist militant attacks in Germany, with authorities acting on a tip from abroad regarding a potential threat involving an individual from North Rhine-Westphalia.

The arrests unfolded as Thomas Haldenwang, the head of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), warned of an increased risk of Islamist militant attacks. Haldenwang linked this elevated threat to the Israel-Hamas conflict and highlighted the potential for attacks on Jewish, Israeli individuals, and institutions in the West. He emphasized that various groups were spreading hatred, incitement, and antisemitism, with jihadist groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State exploiting the situation to convey a victim narrative to Muslims in the West. The intelligence chief underscored the urgency of the situation, stating that an attack could happen in Germany at any time.

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In an unprecedented turn of events in Paris this weekend, a significant demonstration took place in response to the Israel-Hamas conflict, drawing representatives from major political parties. Notably, the far right, including Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella of the National Rally, participated, while the far left, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon of France Unbowed, boycotted the event, citing it as a gathering for supporters of the Gaza massacre.

This shift is symbolic, considering historical political dynamics in France. Traditionally, the far right was ostracized due to its perceived anti-Republican views, especially on Jewish issues. The far left, on the other hand, despite criticism, remained part of the broader political spectrum. However, the current scenario reflects a shake-up in the political landscape.

The contemporary far right in France, now labeled as “hard right” or “national right,” has shifted focus from past anti-Semitic stances to prioritize issues such as immigration, insecurity, and Islamism, aligning with some Jewish perspectives. Meanwhile, the far left interprets the Gaza conflict through an anti-colonial lens, emphasizing solidarity with the oppressed against perceived superpower aggression.

This unusual alignment sees a party with a history of Holocaust denial, like the National Rally, supporting French Jews openly. Conversely, a party built on human rights and equality, like France Unbowed, faces accusations of antisemitism for not condemning Hamas as a terrorist organization.

While nuances exist, the overall trend shows the National Rally under Marine Le Pen successfully integrating into the mainstream, while France Unbowed under Jean-Luc Mélenchon appears to be distancing itself. Opinion polls reinforce this, with Marine Le Pen leading in presidential election polls, while Mélenchon’s support has declined.

Serge Klarsfeld, a prominent figure in the fight against antisemitism in France, acknowledges the irony. He appreciates the far right’s departure from antisemitism, seeing it align with Republican values, yet expresses sadness over the far left’s perceived abandonment of efforts to combat antisemitism.

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The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, triggered by a deadly weekend attack by the militant group, is having far-reaching implications on domestic US politics. This crisis is further complicating matters for the Biden administration, intensifying the focus on the tumultuous state of Congress and injecting an element of uncertainty into the upcoming 2024 US elections.

While Americans typically pay limited attention to international events, the disturbing images of civilian casualties in the Middle East, including American casualties, are ensuring that this issue captures national attention. Critics of President Joe Biden are already blaming him for the violence in Israel, accusing Iran of orchestrating the attack and citing US policies, such as allowing Iran to increase oil sales and access frozen assets for humanitarian aid, as signs of American “weakness.”

Former President Donald Trump, in a speech in New Hampshire, pledged to reinstate all US sanctions on Iran and reintroduce a travel ban on majority Muslim nations afflicted by terrorism. Some experts argue that Trump’s Abraham Accords and the Biden administration’s efforts to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia may have contributed to the Hamas attack by sidestepping the Palestinian issue.

Republican criticism is primarily directed at President Biden, but the Israel attack has also exposed divisions within the party, particularly regarding the changing perspectives on interventionist foreign policies. Former Vice President Mike Pence used this moment to criticize some of his Republican rivals for their nativist and isolationist worldviews.

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who faced a challenge from right-wing conservatives, is now at odds with the party, further complicating congressional action. Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz dismissed concerns that his actions impeded Congress’s ability to assist Israel, emphasizing the significant military support the US provides to Israel annually.

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