Europe
All Roads Lead to Roma

All Roads Lead to Roma

Ever since an angry mob burned down a Roma encampment last month, Turin’s streets have been flooded with beggars. Judging from their bright clothing, and their accents, it’s hard not to imagine who they are, and why they all of the sudden appeared, en masse, all over the city. From my apartment, on the west side of the River Po, all the way to the city center, there are women begging. Elderly women, to be precise. More»

At War With the Past

At War With the Past

Lublin isn’t the sort of place that frequents as a setting for Hollywood films. The introduction to Joel and Ethan Coen’s A Serious Man breaks with convention. Once home to a large Jewish community, the impoverished Polish city serves as a backdrop for the appearance of a gothic dybbuk, foreshadowing the Nazi genocide, that would empty the town of its Jews. More»

Post-Communist Blues

Post-Communist Blues

A Polish court has officially sanctioned two historic symbols linked with fascism and homophobia,  the Phalanx and the Celtic cross –  zakaz pedalowania  [Loose translation: Schwulen verboten/Ban the fags.] From now on, these signs will be legally protected.  They are symbols of an ultra-nationalist party, The National Rebirth of Poland, which started as an anti-minority organization in the 1930s. More»

Germany of the Mind

Germany of the Mind

“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»

World of Kebab

World of Kebab

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»

Meet the Neighbors

Meet the Neighbors

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»

Stop the Violence

Stop the Violence

My heart was pounding. Watching footage of Saturday’s rioting in Rome,  my worst fears had come true. The left had become so outraged, it was taking the easy way out. The way of violence. Not only was there the expected fighting between the Black Bloc and the cops. La Repubblica documented instances of hooded militants fighting with red flag-waving protestors as well. More»

No Hungary Here

No Hungary Here

Poland has not turned into Hungary. However, the country’s opposition leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, defeated in Sunday’s general election, told reporters on Sunday night that he still hoped to turn Warsaw into a second Budapest. To observers of Polish politics, such statements will hardly be surprising. More»

God and Poland

God and Poland

Poland faces a powerful Catholic right promoting a “moral revolution” (rewolucja moralna.) These same conservatives were in power between 2005 and 2007, and may return to government in the coming elections. By the end of the Law and Justice government in 2007, the nationalistic “Poland for the Polish” of this morality was clear. More»

Where's the Party?

Where’s the Party?

“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»

Cultural Programming

Cultural Programming

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»

Inglan is a Bitch

Inglan is a Bitch

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»