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 comments on European affairs for Israel's i24News and China's CGTN.

Every time we drive through Zurich, the GPS fails. Nine times out of ten, the device will send my wife and I down one-way streets, or point us in the wrong direction. Having made at least half a dozen trips between Italy and Germany during the last two years, I still can’t figure whether it’s the Alps that are in the way, or that I need a new satnav system. (More…)

A year can be an eternity. Especially if you measure time by the speed of news publishing. Old enough to have written for print periodicals, but young enough to have begun my journalistic career online, I remain astonished by the amount of media that can be produced in a week, let alone a month, or a year. (More…)

It’s a matter of trust. So went the logic of Monday’s announcement by Canada’s immigration minister, that the government would ban the wearing of niqab, or burqas, when veil-wearing Muslim women take Canadian citizenship. Judges have to be certain they know who they’re dealing with when awarding such privileges,  Minister Jason Kenney informed The Guardian. (More…)

“Racism is no longer a problem,” said the sociologist, as she put down her drink. “Amongst Germans, it’s no longer an issue. They accept difference now. Today, it’s the immigrants that are the problem, like the eastern Europeans, who are intolerant of Islam, and of women wearing burkas. A lot of work needs to be done with them.” (More…)

The falafel was unlike any I’d ever seen. If the waiter had not identified it as such to the customer seated next to us, I’m not sure I’d have even known what it was. Cylindrical, toasted dark brown, they could very well have been kibbeh, pinecone-shaped, fried bulghur wheat pastries, stuffed with onions, ground meat, and pine nuts. (More…)

If this were a music mag, it would have made for a great advert. “Rage against the machine,” read the headline gracing the cover of the October 22nd edition of The Economist. The subheadline, however, was a bit more in keeping: “Capitalism and its critics.” Reinforcing the message was a photo of a concerned young man next to a US flag, a dollar bill taped across his mouth. (More…)

We were in their way. “Excuse me,”  interjected the most assertive of the women. She looked anxious. Embarrassed, I let her by. Two Israeli men, deep in conversation, about money, had inadvertently blocked a group of young hijab-wearing Muslims from London’s Green Park tube station. I wanted to say something to my friend, but he beat me to it. (More…)

“Grazie Napoli!” read the sign. Written by hand on a legal-sized sheet of white paper, it was taped to the end of a small wooden table in the middle of the square. Surrounded by young Italian families and neighborhood shop owners nibbling on aperitivos, drinking matching plastic cups of red wine, our neighbors repeatedly made toasts. A squad of Italian soldiers looked on at the crowd, expressionless. The contrast was a bit unnerving. (More…)

She said she was in favor immigration. Just not “this immigration,” meaning the current wave of immigrants arriving on Italy’s shores. Stating that EU immigration policy had “totally failed,” Souad Sbai blamed NATO’s Libyan campaign for creating the current refugee crisis, telling her host that Europe is better prepared to fight wars than deal with immigration. She called for a Marshall plan for North Africa, as proper recompense for its oil. (More…)

Slowly, they surrounded us. Clad in black North Face jackets, hoods pulled tightly over their heads, they quietly looked my friend and I over. Judging from their body language, these young men — six, possibly seven — were absolutely bewildered. They spoke softly amongst themselves, revealing what sounded like French African accents, perhaps Senegalese, or from the Ivory Coast. (More…)

During the four and a half years that I lived in London, I always found that I did my best reading on the tube. Not necessarily of my own books or periodicals (though I always had one or the other on me) but the newspapers I found other passengers reading. As an immigrant youngster, at first I imagined that the headlines I encountered represented the opinions of the British. As I grew older, and began returning to the country as a journalist, I of course learned otherwise. (More…)

For twelve months, my wife and I lived in a large 1950s apartment building on Milan’s Piazzale Loreto. Not exactly a tourist destination, the busy square is best-known to historians for having hosted the bodies of Benito Mussolini and that of his mistress, Clara Petacci, after they were killed by partisans. Immediately adjacent to place their corpses were hung, our home always held a certain kind of political significance, that as foreigners, we weren’t expecting to encounter. (More…)