Author: Joel Schalit
Joel Schalit is the author of the critically-acclaimed Israel vs. Utopia, and Jerusalem Calling, and has edited some of America's most influential magazines, including Punk Planet and Tikkun. The longtime News Editor at Brussels' EURACTIV, Schalit now heads the publishing department at Berlin's DOC and comments on European affairs for Israel's i24News.

Usually, the music is Turkish. Arabesque, as it is called, featuring Middle Eastern- sounding instrumental motifs, but still,  Turkish. Blasting out of cars idling at the stoplight on Karl-Marx-Straße, I often find myself trying to make out the details of the songs. “Was that an Om Khaltoum sample, or an actual orchestra?” I never get it right. (More…)

They’re ideal leftwing subjects. Irreplaceable, they can make demands of employers. Exploited, they’re inclined towards solidarity with one another. Foreign, they’re intensely marginalized, for cultural, as well as economic reasons. Impoverished, their hunger inspires them. In other words, they have something to fight for; not just anything, but social equality. (More…)

The polls confirmed his instincts were correct. Singing the praises of Il Duce on Holocaust Memorial Day proved to be a smart decision. Now only five points behind frontrunner Pier Luigi Bersani, Silvio Berlusconi’s popularity with voters was unharmed. With a population of less than thirty thousand, in a country of over sixty million, Italy’s Jewish community doesn’t count. (More…)

“Fascisti Carogne,” (Fascist Bastards) the graffiti read, in bold blood red. An anarchist A placed to its right, it wasn’t hard to surmise its source. Situated underneath four municipal billboards designated for political posters, the slogan is a denunciation of Italy’s political class. Left or right, they’re all the same, including Unione del Centro party chief Pier Ferdinando Casini, whose advert takes up three of the spaces. (More…)

With repetition, truth accretes. So I mumbled, as I looked up at the newsstand, and saw dozens of copies of the new Charlie Hebdo on display. “Intouchables 2,” read the lead headline. Beneath it was a drawing of a Haredi Jew, pushing a disabled Imam sitting in a wheelchair. “Faut pas se moquer!” (“Don’t mock us!”) he says. (More…)

Europe can be lonely for Israelis. Particularly during campaigns against the Palestinians. In between the anti-war demonstrations, the flyers and the graffiti, there is a perennial sense of favoritism, which many translate as anti-Semitism. Why else would they (the British, the Italians, etc.) always ignore Israel’s suffering? What about the rockets? (More…)

The Imam was optimistic. ”This is a step forward for integration too’,” he bragged to ANSA, the Italian state news agency. The reason? The first halal mozzarella had been certified by religious authorities. Henceforth, Italian Muslims would be able to consume one of Italy’s most popular food products, in full accordance with their religious beliefs. (More…)

They call it “poverty porn.” Published in The Guardian, an August 14th feature discloses the results of an Advertising Standards Authority survey, warning British charities against using severe imagery in adverts intended to highlight homelessness. Accordingly, using photos of compromised persons constitutes “shock tactics” that risk “exploiting” their subjects, and putting off the public. (More…)

The focus on Arab countries takes some getting used to. Especially if you’re accustomed to encountering anti-Israeli occupation flyers, not anti-Assad or Tahrir Square-themed demo adverts. Indeed, the introduction of Arab Spring-themed street art, and political postering,  throughout Europe, has signified a cultural change. The subject of popular debate now includes Middle Eastern states other than just Israel, and its conflict with the Palestinians. (More…)

Arms upraised, they punched the air, shrieking at the top of their lungs in Tigrinyan. An Irish team had just scored its first goal against an unidentified Milanese team. I was confused. “Why are they rooting for the Irish?” I queried my companion. “Because they’re Africans,” he snorted. “They want to see the Italians punished for their racism.” (More…)

He must have been about twelve. Holding a large piece of paper, with the letters of the alphabet written upon it, he walked from table to table, arms outstretched staring intently at whoever was seated. A couple of customers gave him money. Most didn’t. The boy smelled. Perhaps it was that he was wearing a big wool sweater. It was eighty degrees outside. (More…)

Few entities inspire as much fear as Europe. Whether it’s the two World Wars, the Holocaust, or colonialism, the bad rap has generally been justified.  Add the current economic crisis to the list, and it’s hard to imagine the anxiety ever going away. (More…)