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With individual selections from our editors, Good Reads provides a regular run-down of best and most thought-provoking European journalism available online. This week, Diána Vonnák shares some intriguing thoughts on illegal immigration to the EU, fashion and the public role of intellectuals.

Diána, Managing editor

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Fortress Europe

Lampedusa did not change EU policies regarding asylum seekers and refugees and neither have similar subsequent, almost daily tragedies. Foreign policy has been a consistently hot topic for months, yet Syria, IS and the troubles in West Africa have clouded our public awareness of the unquestionable need of thousands to get out of miseries beyond imagination.

We had a Lampedusa-related pick from Veronica in the last edition of Good Reads, but I could not resist starting my list with another take on Fortress Europe. There are two aspects of this recent Spiegel Online article that make it stand out from the majority of similar advocacy pieces: its insights into the work of Frontex (the organisation that patrols EU borders) and the geographical scope, including the Hungarian-Serbian frontier and the border between Greece and Turkey.

Published in Good Reads
Friday, 22 August 2014 00:00

Good Reads – 22/08/2014

Another week, another selection of the best European reads, brought to you by two of E&M's editors. Frances and Bettina share a few gems they've come across online, ranging from an article about British POWs in Germany during the First World War to attempts to set the most recent outbreak of the Gaza-Israel conflict in its cultural and historical context, highlighting the role of regional and international stakeholders and Europe's hypocrisy in the affair.

Frances, Sixth Sense editor

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At home in enemy territory

Ever since visiting the exquisite Italian Chapel in Orkney, which was built by captured Italian soldiers during the Second World War, I have been intrigued by the fates of prisoners of war – both military and civilian. So it was with some interest that I stumbled upon Stephen Evans' recent article on the BBC website about the 5000 British citizens interned at Ruhleben on the edge of Berlin between 1914 and 1918.

These men were not soldiers, but civilians who happened to be in Germany when war broke out across Europe: everyday folk simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite many privations, they were determined to make the best of their lot and set about establishing not just order, including class and racial hierarchies, but also a degree of comfort. As Evans engagingly explains, they grew flowers in biscuit tins, organised rugby and cricket matches, put on plays and, in fact, ended up far better off than the people living in the German capital at the time. Even the name of the detention camp is somehow appropriate: roughly translated, it means "the quiet life". 

Published in Good Reads
Tuesday, 05 August 2014 00:00

Anti-Semitism is haunting Europe

 

Palestinian flag
Photo: Elvert Barnes; Licence: CC-BY 2.0
The Israeli-Palestian conflict has long been a contentious issue around the world

 

With the escalation of military operations in Gaza, anti-Israel protests are on the rise in a number of European cities. Alarmingly, these protests often appear to have an anti-Semitic tone that is not related to the conflict in the Middle East. According to Laetitia Grevers, instead of criticising constructively, many demonstrators rule out political debate and create a climate of hate.

Europe’s political institutions are enjoying the summer break. Local politics has taken a back seat and citizens' attentions are turned towards more global concerns. Thousands of them have taken to the streets to protest against the military offensive in Gaza. And it is here that anti-Semitism has been flaring up across Europe.

The biggest demonstration took place in London three weeks ago with 10,000 protesters. Some demonstrators claimed that Israel is continuing "Hitler's war of annihilation" and seeking a "final solution". In France riots quickly turned violent: two Parisian synagogues were attacked with baseball bats and sticks and cars were set on fire. Demonstrators shouted: "Death to the Jews!" or "Jews get out!". These views are far removed from the political debate on the conflict in the Middle East. Paris' chief rabbi Haim Korsia is demanding that the French no longer downplay the rise of anti-Semitism within their society.

Published in Contentious Europe
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