Tag: Berlin

“Heil Hitler,” the shout rang out as we disembarked from the train. The largely Arab passengers were taken aback, immediately scanning the platform. Several hijab-clad women with young children made eye contact to see if I was the offending European party. (More…)

The Sixties are a cliché. They have been since the 1980s. But, who wouldn’t argue that the era isn’t preferable to the one we live in now. Everything in politics is about time these days. Nostalgia, in particular. (More…)

Thanks to global media, it is easy to feel like one knows the world. Few regions evoke such a deceptive feeling of being ‘known’ to the Western observer as the Middle East. But in reality, what do Europeans know about the region’s histories, cultures, and accents? To this German, they all look kind of the same. It wasn’t so long ago that I couldn’t tell Alawites from Alevis. (More…)

“Muslims are the enemy,” the cab driver told me. “My parents grew up in Iraq. They learned firsthand that their middle name is jihad.” “When did your parents make Aliyah,” I asked him. “In the 1950s, as kids,” he answered. (More…)

I knew he was acting. But, as the Roma panhandler precariously balanced himself, with one-foot covering two Stolperstein, I handed him four euros, and spoke to him in Hebrew. “Kol hakavod” (‘All of the respect’) I said, as I put the coins in his open, albeit crippled-looking hand. (More…)

Berlin might as well be a wilderness area. During the winter months, the homeless go into hibernation underground, taking refuge in the German capital’s vast network of heated subway stations like they were nests specially prepared for them to sit out the worst part of the year. (More…)

At least once a year, without fail, Middle Eastern news media run features on Israelis in Berlin. Whether the outlets are Arab or Israeli is immaterial. They both do it. There’s just something about the topic that won’t quit. (More…)

Prior to the arrival of Syrians in Berlin, the city’s most overrepresented Arab passport was Lebanese. Many, of course, are held by Palestinians, for whom the ID was a convenient ticket out of the country. But, all the same, a significant number of natives have followed them, for many of the same reasons: escaping the sectarian violence that has plagued the country for the better part of four decades. (More…)

Berlin is a thriving centre of the Palestinian Diaspora. This isn’t surprising and is a result of several important trends, including the large-scale migration (and business success) of Arabic speakers in Europe, and the uniquely friendly atmosphere that the German capital provides for Palestinian culture and politics.  (More…)

On April 30, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere published an extremely controversial article in Bild in which he outlined ten features of a German Leitkultur (“leading culture”), including “enlightened patriotism,” shaking people’s hands, reading Goethe, supporting Israel, and “no Burka.” (More…)

Refugees have always been big business. Whether you’re a smuggler or a humanitarian aid worker, the amount of help they need is immense. These aren’t just passengers transiting between airports. Refugees are states or remnants thereof, which imploded. (More…)

In the dystopia that is the Mideast, Rojava stands out. Few regions of the world are more synonymous with hopelessness. But this tiny leftist enclave in Syria, where gender and social equality are co-equals, bucks the norm. And then some. (More…)