Stories about Jews

How the Kamila Shamsie incident reflects Germany’s growing Israel problem

Last week, in a bizarre turn of events, the British-Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie was informed that she would no longer receive the Nelly Sachs Prize on account of the fact that Shamsie supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) movement. The withdrawal of the prize, which has been welcomed by some and was initially conferred upon Shamsie by the German city of Dortmund, speaks more about the lingering fault-lines which remain entrenched in Germany than it does about Shamsie’s personal politics.   But before one dives into this particular incident and how it is representative of a wider ...

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A Nazi satire, Disney takes the unconventional route with ‘Jojo Rabbit’

Disney is releasing a movie in which a zany version of Adolf Hitler feasts on a unicorn’s head. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type, yet here we are. Taika Waititi has crafted a madcap adventure that is set during World War II in the shape of his upcoming satirical black comedy Jojo Rabbit. The project, perhaps incongruously, finds itself at Disney following the company’s recent acquisition of the now-defunct 21st Century Fox. Based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, the film revolves around a nationalistic young boy, Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), whose imaginary friend happens to be a silly incarnation ...

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With Donald Trump’s travel ban 3.0, is America any safer?

Today, the Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban to be fully enforced. This ban restricts visas from eight countries, including six Muslim-majority nations. The premise: ‘national security’. But does such a ban really make Americans safer? Here are five points all Americans need to understand. 1. Religious extremism, not Islam, is the real threat There is no denying the fact that religious extremists, and terrorist groups like the Islamic State (IS), pose a grave threat to the United States. These groups pervert religion for ulterior geo-political agendas. Their violent rhetoric – advocating for the killing of homosexuals, ‘blasphemers’, apostates and anyone who disagrees with ...

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With blatant hatemongering like ‘Punish a Muslim Day’, Brexit has changed Britain for the worse

Ever since Britain’s exasperated populace announced its wish to leave the European Union (EU), there seems to have been a blanket approval given to racists to harass, intimidate and scare Muslims and other ethnic minorities in an attempt to put ‘Britain first’. A sizeable increase in attacks against Muslims was reported soon after Brexit occurred, and this increase seems to show no signs of abating anytime soon.  The latest hate-fuelled incident involves a highly offensive and problematic letter put through the letterboxes of individuals in various communities of the country, calling for a “Punish a Muslim Day”. The main ethos of the letter is to instil fear ...

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Yes, Richard Spencer is a racist, but the US is still a democracy governed through a system of checks and balances

Richard Spencer, an American firebrand and a symbol of the alt-right movement in the US, recently delivered a speech at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida. Spencer’s prior claim to fame was leading the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. That rally ended in violence leaving an outright clash between Spencer’s followers and counter protesters. Spencer is known as a champion of white supremacy. When he announced that he was coming to Gainesville to deliver a speech, the university panicked. Initially, they tried banning his speech. Spencer countered by threatening to sue the university. He argued that he was allowed ...

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The Zookeeper’s Wife may not be the most forceful World War II film, but it is heart-breaking and poignant

While Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were busy writing the most harrowing chapter in modern history, several heroic people were risking their lives to save their fellow human beings from brutal extermination during the Holocaust in World War II. The Zookeeper’s Wife is the tale of one such family. Based on real events, the story begins in Poland in 1939 at the Warsaw Zoo, where Antonina Żabińska (Jessica Chastain) helps her husband, Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh), take care of the animals in a beautiful menagerie. But their idyllic lives are turned upside down when German forces invade Poland. An airstrike ruins their ...

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96 children from three fathers because birth control is a “heinous sin” – do you understand what’s happening, Pakistan?

When I read about Gulzar Khan, Mastan Khan Wazir and Jan Mohammed, the three Pakistanis that fathered 96 children, I was reminded of a man in our neighbourhood who had 17 children (from one wife) in the 1960s. Most men in those days had six children, though one sometimes did come across couples with 10 or 11. In fact, I know a few even today who have nine or 10 offspring. Now these are not average illiterate Pakistanis. Some of them are engineers and doctors; one is a chartered accountant, while the rest are executives in banks and offices. If you ask them why ...

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Is Rumi an anti-dote for the post-truth America?

On January 5, 2017, the New Yorker published an article with a revealing title: “The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi.” Rozina Ali—who is also the editorial staff of the magazine—raised an interesting issue: that in the West, Rumi, the 13th-century poet and scholar, is “typically referred to as a mystic, a saint, an enlightened man” but “less frequently described as a Muslim.”  Ali’s contention is that Rumi’s poetry has been decoupled by his English translators from its Islamic context, and that way they have effaced “historical dynamism” within the Muslim scholarship. Because “Rumi’s works reflected a broader push and pull between ...

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Jinnah was not Iqbal’s first choice to lead the Muslims

To say Allama Muhammad Iqbal was an extremely complex individual is an understatement. The poet, philosopher and political thinker that Allama Iqbal was, he constantly evolved, or some might argue, regressed in his approach to the idea of a Muslim political identity and how it translated politically. Iqbal was, at various times, a Muslim modernist (he endorsed the founding of secular Turkish republic as a seminal event in Islamic history), a Muslim reformer (his lectures compiled as the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam show the breadth of his reformist vision) and an uncompromising Islamist believing in theological unity and ...

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Trump is president. Now what?

On the morning of the Election Day, November 8, 2016, while driving to work into the District of Columbia, I stopped my car to take a good look at the Washington Monument as it stood in all its majesty with the sun rising in the background. This was obviously not the first time that I admired the famous landmark. I’ve been a local ever since I moved to the US as a budding young man. I love being here and cherish the history and the cultural vibe that one draws from the high literacy and multi-cultural enlightened environment. Well, by nightfall ...

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