World-Wide Anti-Semitism and Ukraine: Old Patterns or a “New Wave”?

While many people routinely employ the word “anti-Semitism,” the term itself is rather ill-defined.  Though the news media has reported on recent anti-Semitic attacks which have spread through both Europe and the United States, such coverage has fallen short of the mark by failing to contextualize this “new wave” of […]

A Forgotten Moorish Synagogue Amidst Uzhgorod’s Tangled Ethnic History

Late last year, while walking around the otherwise somewhat drab western Ukrainian town of Uzhgorod, I came upon a building which looked like something straight out of 1001 Arabian Nights: a Moorish-influenced synagogue constructed in red brick with Andalusian-style motifs and flourishes displayed on the façade.  Originally constructed in 1904, […]

L’viv and the Anti-Semitism Question: An Eyewitness Report

Recently, the western Ukrainian city of L’viv has been getting some pretty bad press.  Last year, the Jewish Daily Forward noted the town had hosted a march in remembrance of a World War II-era SS unit, complete with Nazi salutes no less.  The march, which drew a thousand people, honored […]

Ukrainian Election: Religion and Culture Wars

When Ukrainians speak of their yearning to join the European Union, what is their innate understanding of the west or “western values”?  Such questions are assuming greater importance as Ukraine’s presidential election approaches in March.  Though western leaders may have thought Kyiv was on track to embrace social tolerance and […]

Assessing Yulia Tymoshenko, Grande Dame of Ukrainian Politics

Champion of the underdog or pseudo-populist?  Ukrainian patriot or kowtowing to Russian interests?  Inheritor of Maidan’s legacy or channeling the oligarchs?  Love or hate her, Yulia Tymoshenko is one of the most controversial figures on Ukraine’s political scene and this grande dame will no doubt play a key role in […]

Anarchism in Berlin: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Can Berlin’s “rebel culture” survive in the midst of an inexorable march toward gentrification?  It may be a tough order, though anarchists and others are basking in victory after internet giant Google abandoned efforts to open a company “campus” in the trendy neighborhood of Kreuzberg.  The corporation would not say […]

Uzhgorod: Welcome to Moorish-Style Synagogue

One of the highlights of my trip to Uzhgorod was a visit to the old Moorish-style synagogue, which now serves as a local concert hall. I climbed up on a hill of gravel, and beyond it looked like there was some type of construction or restoration going on. Returning several […]

Reflections On The War With Russia

Walking around Kyiv, I came upon a rather incongruous site: Czarist-era military fortifications designed to keep outsiders from intruding upon the town. In light of the fact that Ukraine now finds itself in a war with Russian-backed separatists, such fortifications take on a somewhat ironic twist. Ukrainian soldiers, who are […]