< SWITCH ME >

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

8frances

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
NEXT ISSUE
IN -791 DAYS