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Until the Arab Spring, few Middle Eastern states were less in public consciousness than Syria. If you knew anything about the country, chances are it was in relation to Israel, or, if you followed the War on Terror, Iraq. Otherwise, it was a blank. (More…)

Jews, rejoice! It’s a miracle! Israel has been saved once again from the menace of those who rise up in every generation to annihilate us! Over 1,000 activists were planning to fly to Israel and protest the occupation. Imagine the terror that would have wrought! Luckily, Benjamin Netanyahu saved us from another Holocaust! (More…)

We Iranians have a lot on our plates these days: the looming shadow of war, crippling international sanctions that are starving our economy and making life miserable, a despotic theocratic regime that controls every aspect of our lives. And, to add insult to injury, American reality shows that ridicule our culture and make us look like idiots. (More…)

As the first wave of punk evolved into hardcore, no wave, postpunk, and a variety of other subgenres, a singular strand of the punk explosion developed in Southern California: deathrock. (More…)

Moshe Feiglin is not known for his film criticism. A high ranking member of Israel’s ruling Likud party, the right-winger is better known for his extremist views. Yet, two months ago, he published one of the most important aesthetic pronouncements to be made in Israel in recent years. (More…)

Italy’s Lega Nord (Northern League) does not inspire much brand name recognition. Outside the country, that is. With the exception of Italian expats, and students of European populism, the anti-immigrant party has been relatively invisible to the outside world, compared to sibling organizations such as France’s National Front, and Austria’s Freedom Party. (More…)

Not being a big poetry fan, I’m in no position to offer a critique of Günter Grass’ controversial poem, “What Must Be Said.” I’ve read two different translations of it (here is the one I’ve seen most commonly, and here is another that feels like a very different poem.) The difference in wording of the translations leads to stark changes in the poem’s tone and substance. (More…)

Dear Herr Grass,

Ever since your poem was first published, I’ve been wanting to talk to you. You don’t know me from a hole in the ground. The chances are that we’ll never meet, either. However, I didn’t want the event to pass without you hearing from me, as someone who was touched by your words. (More…)

Rock criticism’s great sensationalist Lester Bangs warned the world about the “Cybernetic Inevitable” that rock was fated to suffer. It was an evolutionary stage where flawless musical machines put human musicians out of work. (More…)

“Mushroom soup, bitter greens with tomatoes the size of peas, rare roast beef sliced as thin as paper, noodles in a green sauce, cheese that melts on your tongue served with sweet blue grapes” — Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen’s first meal in the Capitol is not distinguished by arcane preparation but the availability of high-quality ingredients. (More…)

Car bomb after car bomb. Suicide bombing after suicide bombing. It seems like it was only yesterday that Baghdad was the news. Every day. Twenty-four hours a day. Top of the hour. Every hour. Growing up during the 1980s, watching CNN, I was reared on images of Beirut as the most violent city on earth. In the ’90s, that changed to Sarajevo. In 2003, Baghdad took over. (More…)

It’s been two weeks since the ninth anniversary of the Iraq War’s launch. Watching European news, serious reflection on a conflict that officially ended only months ago seems in short supply. This, even as the fragile, ostensibly liberated nation invaded in 2003, continues to be riven by sectarian tensions that Western meddling remains responsible for. (More…)