Europe
Democracy Without Leadership

Democracy Without Leadership

Imagine a state about the size of Maryland. Give it slightly more people than Michigan. Divide it into three federal regions. Spice it up with three official languages (make sure these don’t coincide with the regions’ borders). Ensure it is run by variable coalitions of 10 political parties operating through 7 parliaments. Chop it into 10 provinces and, for good measure, 589 local councils. Mix well and let stew for a few decades. What do you get? Welcome to Belgium. More»

Britain For Extremists

Britain For Extremists

Forty-eight hours before the British government was to announce new initiatives to combat Muslim militants, a new police report indicated how much worse of a threat they have become. As The Daily Telegraph reported, a new generation of extremists, driven underground by law enforcement tactics, is now coming of age despite harsh measures to contain it. More»

Belgium Was Here

Belgium Was Here

An obscure little place squeezed between bigger powers, Belgium has always been… well, different. For example, it is the first working anarchist state. It has not had a government since June 2010, when the previous one was dissolved following parliamentary elections, which the ruling right-of-centre coalition lost and Flemish nationalists and Walloon socialists won. This would be like Ralph Nader having to form a government with Pat Buchanan and Michele Bachmann. Talks have predictably gotten nowhere. More»

Mladic For Minorities

Mladic For Minorities

The arrest of Ratko Mladic could not have come at a better time. The last surviving high-ranking war criminal of the Yugoslav civil war to be apprehended, his sixteen years at large were a constant reminder of Western Europe’s failure to achieve justice. At a time when all Europeans need to be reminded of the values that made his freedom a travesty, Mladic has the potential to inspire more than a sense of closure where the Balkan tragedy of the early 1990s is concerned. More»

Our Common Swastika

Our Common Swastika

For the last month, my wife and I have lived next to a synagogue. Not just any synagogue. Perhaps one of the most beautiful ones in Europe. The Great Synagogue of Turin, on the Piazzetta Primo Levi. First constructed in 1884, the monumental structure befits its location. Styled in a deliberately Moorish fashion, with classically Islamic details, it betrays the close proximity of the Middle East. More»

Scenes From Milan

Scenes From Milan

Scene 1

She isn’t exactly a star. But if you watch the local news enough, you can catch her hosting her own segment. Never more than twenty minutes long, the piece that sticks in my memory the most is one she made about eating organic food. More»

My United Kingdom

My United Kingdom

It was a sight I never imagined I’d see. I was watching a reenactment of the 1946 bombing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel on British TV. One of the last episodes of  The Promise, aired in February on the UK’s Channel Four, the miniseries succeeded in touching a lot of nerves. This one touched mine. More»

Don Juan of Milan

Don Juan of Milan

Silvio Berlusconi can be faulted for many things. For using television to refashion Italian sensibilities. For buying votes. For making a mockery of an advanced, industrialized European country’s legal system. And, as many would insist, for reversing however far Italy may have traveled into the sexual revolution. More»

Taking Out the Trash

Taking Out the Trash

As I approached the door of our apartment building, I noticed an elderly, apron-clad woman was sorting through our garbage. “Ein Auslander!” (“A foreigner”) she derisively exclaimed as she examined the label of an empty bottle of tahina. “Ein Auslander,” the woman repeated to herself, nodding her head as she sniffed its freshly scrubbed interior. More»

Moving Beyond the Middle East

Moving Beyond the Middle East

“Israel can suck my dick, Arab leaders can lick my balls,” bellowed the Palestinian MC, with a wild look in his eyes. For as partisan an event as this gig was, the statement had a delightfully alienated quality to it. He couldn’t identify with anyone; except, that is, his own people. His words hung heavily in the room, contrasting sharply with those of the British rapper who had introduced his act, someone who, less than an hour before, had urged the largely Palestinian audience to oppose the allied attack on Libya. More»

My Life as a Sugar Daddy

My Life as a Sugar Daddy

It was the middle of January. It had rained all day, but the sun had finally broken through. There was a noticeable dearth of tourists in Piazza Venezia, even for such an offseason time of year. On the lookout for customers, the guys in gladiator outfits were more aggressive than usual, stopping anyone they could find who happened to be carrying a camera. More»