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Orban's Law, National Identity As Fear

That disturbingly flexible phrase "fear of the other" appears to be driving electoral politics around the world right now. Perhaps the intellectual center can be found in central Europe, specifically Viktor Orban's Hungary. Since taking office in 2010, the smooth-talking right-wing prime minister has been a singular voice for those who see the West as under threat from alien forces. Eyes will be on Hungary this weekend, where Orban is sponsoring a referendum that would reject European Union policy on handling the influx of migrants and refugees, relying on billboards that blame migration for the terrorist attacks in Paris and rapes in Europe.

By now, we have grown used to seeing the language and tactics of those using the fear of the other to achieve their political aims — from Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to Donald Trump in Council Bluffs, Iowa. But in Europe, history pushes people to do some hard thinking about where all of this comes from, and where it is going. Andreas Zielcke, writing in the Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, notes how the otherwise neutral concept of "national identity" is turning sour in the face of an economic crisis and social instability in the West. "Only when national identity is threatened in the larger "collective mind" does it then become an integral part of the political agenda," Zielcke writes. "When unchallenged, national identity is an epic tale, looking towards the future. When threatened, it becomes a drama focused on the past. In the whirlpools of the refugee maelstrom it is becoming an identity that is above all about self-defense."

Polls show overwhelming support for Orban's anti-immigrant referendum. For the election result to be binding, at least half of all registered voters need to cast their ballot on Sunday. The link between fear of the other and voter turnout has never been more important.



Dignitaries from 70 countries attended the state funeral of the former Israeli president and Nobel peace prize winner in Jerusalem. The ceremony brought together Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Follow live updates in English from Israel's Haaretz.


Turkey ordered the closure of 20 television and radio channels after accusing them of spreading "terrorist propaganda," Reuters reports. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to prolong the country's state of emergency that was implemented after the July 15 coup attempt, Turkish paper Hürriyet reports.


Today's 57-second shot of history remembers this movie icon who died in a car crash 61 years ago, at age 24.


Federal investigators are probing the wreckage of a train crash that killed one woman and injured more than 100 people in Hoboken, New Jersey, yesterday. According to NBC New York, police are trying to determine if the installation of overriding security systems could have helped avoid the crash.


"Hitler massacred 3 million Jews … There's 3 million drug addicts. There are. I'd be happy to slaughter them," Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte said early Friday, stepping up his anti-drug rhetoric, AP reports.


Steak or avocado, which is worse for the environment? Omnivore Barbara Vorsamer explores vegan life in this Süddeutsche Zeitung piece: "The German agriculture ministry recently advised citizens to abstain from meat for the sake of the environment. The council of experts advocated a ‘shift toward the consumption of a climate-friendly diet'. But that's where things get complicated. What exactly is climate-friendly? Instead of salami, should I put avocado slices on my sandwich? Personally, I'd consider this a delicious alternative. But is it really more eco-friendly? ... If scientists consider a vegetarian diet the most effective way to counter climate change, there's some bad news — the wealthier a country gets, the more meat it consumes. But I can do my bit. Each steak I refuse to eat is one steak less that has to be produced."

Read the full article, Veganism And Climate Change, Quest Of A Curious Meat Eater.


The editorial board of USA Today, a newspaper with an estimated 7 million readers daily making it one of the most widely-circulated publications in America, has taken sides for the first time in its 34-year history — if not exactly for Hillary Clinton, at least against Donald Trump.


Deutsche Bank stocks plummeted by 8% in early trading at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange today, Deutsche Welle reports. Hedge funds have started to pull some of their business from the bank amid growing concerns about the performance of Germany's largest lender, according to Bloomberg.


Four Hundred Pleats — Athens, 1997


Italian police recovered two Vincent Van Gogh paintings that were stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2002, La Repubblica reports. Seascape at Scheveningen and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen were found in relatively good condition in Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples, as part of an anti-mafia investigation.



Enraged that the iPhone 7 doesn't come with a headphone jack — and fooled by a prank expand=1] YouTube video — some Apple users have reportedly started drilling holes into their new phones in the hunt for a hidden socket.

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Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski


PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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