York Against Brexit Rally © Pete Lambert |Flickr
DemocracyEssaysFeatureIn Depth

20th Century European Lessons for a 21st Century Brexit

It seems that June 23rd 2016 has become a new “zero hour” moment in European history, though I doubt it will go down in history as one next to November 9th 1989 or May 8th 1945. Those were system changing dates that eventually rippled around the world and signaled the coming of new eras in international relations history: from the multipolar world, to the bipolar cold war, and to the unipolar moment/era of U.S. supremacy. No, Brexit’s date will most likely join the other not so remembered — but still greatly important — days of European pitfall, which triggered constitutional and foreign relations turning points. 

Three dates/events come to mind: first February 21st 1947, when Great Britain relinquished its Mediterranean and European balance of power role by no longer guaranteeing Greece’s and Turkey’s security. …

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Migranten In Passau am 10.12.2015 Clearingstelle der Bundespolizei © Metropolico.org | Flickr
EssaysFeature

We Refugees

In 1943 Hannah Arendt published a short essay in the Jewish periodical “The Menorah Journal” entitled We Refugees. She described in it a widespread refusal among Jews who had escaped the Nazis to call themselves “refugees.” Having lost everything — their occupation, their language, their family — they were eager to adapt to their new country as quickly as possible and to become “normal” citizens. Arendt thought that this assimilation strategy was doomed to failure, because it ignored the fact that the European model of the nation state is structurally dependent upon the fabrication of stateless and displaced persons. Instead, Jews should remember what made them special precisely as refugees. Refugees, she wrote, are “the vanguard of their peoples,” since for them history was no longer “a sealed book.” They have already experienced and recognized what to others has only become obvious today, in the era of globalization: the violence, fragility, and historical obsolescence of a territorial understanding of citizenship. …

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The Espace Leopold, the seat of the European Parliament in Brussels, 2007 © Alina Zienowicz | Wikimedia Commons
CapitalismDemocracyEssaysFascism: Old and NewFeature

The End of Europe

The process of European unification is undergoing a deep crisis, certainly the deepest since it started at the beginning of the 1950s. In less than a year, the EU faced two major tests—first the Greek quarrel, then the refugee crisis — that revealed its true face: a mixture of impotence, unwillingness, egoism, arrogance and cynicism. It is not a pretty spectacle.  …

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A desolate German winter, devoid of humanity © Jens-Olaf Walter | Flickr
EssaysTheory & Practice

Winter is Coming for Refugees in Germany

On the humanity vs. the organization of refuge

It’s getting cold in Germany. It’s actually hard to believe that it has only been weeks since warm images of the “good” German went around the world, of thousands of people welcoming even more thousands of refugees with food, toys, and clothes at train stations throughout the country. It was only a few months ago that Angela Merkel transformed from the dictator of …

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Vylet na Ostry, Sumava, July 9, 2011 ©  Safranek-interia.eu|Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
EssaysEventsMedia & Publics

The Discontinuous Borders of the European Union

Migrants, refugees, and the labor market

The powerful image of thousands of migrants marching together on the motorway between Budapest and Vienna, in the first week of September, is one of those images capable of symbolizing a turning point. It made visible the utter failure of the European policies on immigration and political asylum, while symbolizing the ongoing open contestation of the borders of Fortress Europe. As a part of this …

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"Masquerade" by Aubrey Beardsley (1872 - 1898) © Public Domain |masterpieceart.net/aubrey-beardsley
DemocracyEssaysMedia & Publics

We Say No to the “Sacred Union”

In the aftermath of the killings at Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher, critical voices have largely been drowned in the general sea of undifferentiated outrage. But this statement by French colleagues, which recently appeared in Le Monde, is a major intervention and a welcome exception.

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An ironic flag: the German-Israeli connection as depicted in Berlin © Marla Showfer | Flickr
Essays

Israelis in Berlin and The Elephant in the Room

Notes on migration, pudding, an island economy, and frustrating metaphors (with cream on top)

“Fight from Tel Aviv, not from Berlin,” demanded former Minister of Immigrant Absorption Uzi Baram in Haaretz, while the New York Times  featured the infantile (or “still adolescent”) Israeli society as the center of frustration for many Israelis now clamoring to Berlin because of the impossible price of living. The coverage of Baram’s outcry in the German national and German Jewish press resisted the Holocaust metaphors only barely. …

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The Berlin Wall, in the form of 8000 balloons, disappears into the air, Nov. 9, 2014 © Julia Sonnevend
DemocracyEssays

The 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall

At the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall I noticed fear.

I did not find myself in Angela Merkel’s words who stated that “I had to wait 35 years for that feeling of liberty.”

I hear nervousness in The New York Times article that covers the implosion of the Socialist Republic through an exodus-misery frame. What are they afraid of? Why can’t they acknowledge that the contemporary U.S. or Germany can learn a thing or two from that past? The German Democratic Republic, the former East Germany, was hardly a quixotic place that I wish to reinstate, but I notice the willful erasure of any and all achievements of that short-lived social experiment; …

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Vladimir Putin meeting in Novo Ogaryovo near Moscow, 2008 © Vladimir Rodionov | RIA Novosti archive
DemocracyEssays

Solidarity with Ukraine against Putin’s Reality

We should not be surprised by differences about how to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Understanding reasons for those differences is one critical step toward formulating an effective response. Recognizing both real policy options and the equal importance of political signals is the second. Moving too fast is dangerous in the short run, but not moving at all is the most dangerous in the long run. And that’s what Germany’s leadership promises.

We should not be surprised that the authorities of Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain explicitly resist calls for trade sanctions. Leaderships in Austria and Hungary are likely with them. London seems more concerned with its financial prospects than European well-being. Putin has been pursuing a policy of diplomatic divide and conquer within the EU, sweetened with economic deals powered by the energy business. …

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Ariel Sharon, pictured during a defense meeting held at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, 2002. © Helene C. Stikkel | Dept. of Defense
DemocracyEssays

Ariel Sharon (1928 – 2014)

Reflecting on the myth of a Zionist martyr and the reportage in Israel and beyond

Ariel Sharon was perhaps the last Israeli soldier-statesman whose life was framed with the Zionist myth of martyrology. Although there surely is no shortage of commanders who are mythical figures and became politicians in contemporary Israel, Sharon joins an exclusive club of those mythic figures of men in the history of Zionism whose lives ended mysteriously, untimely, not in war, and/or whose death stories were contested and ambiguous. Theodore Herzl, who died young, and is rumored to have suffered from syphilis. Joseph Trumpeldor who died protecting Tel Chai in 1920 and, as the myth holds (Yael Zerubavel provides a detailed account), said before dying “never mind, it is good to die for our country.” Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by a national-religious law student. Yasser Arafat, whom Israel tried and in the end probably succeeded to poison or otherwise kill during his long career (2004). Rafael Eitan, a former chief of staff and politician: a wave pulled him into the sea in the Ashdod harbor in which he was a project manager (2004), and Sharon, who was in coma for eight years starting in January 2006. His social death was blurred, extended even beyond the span of “the king’s two bodies.” Shortly after his stroke, streets and institutions were already named after him. …

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