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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 10, 2007 / 28 Tishrei 5768

Belgium: Europe's canary in a coal mine?

By Jonah Goldberg


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | You probably don't realize it, but we are living in an unprecedented historical moment. For the first time, Belgium has managed to be interesting without getting invaded by Germany or abusing an African colony.


What's so interesting? In short: Belgium is coming apart at the seams. For four months, its 11 political parties have been unable to form a national government because the Dutch-speaking regions want greater autonomy, or even outright independence.


Primarily split between Dutch-speaking Flemings and French-speaking Walloons, Belgium was formed as a constitutional monarchy where the non-French speakers were mostly treated as second-class citizens. Even today, 177 years later, there are no national figures or national political parties. Each party represents its own ethnic, linguistic or regional enclave. But, although the Flemish majority is somewhat more prosperous, the Walloons have a perceived stranglehold on Belgian politics. One is tempted to joke that it's an Iraq with better weather and waffles.


But it isn't a mini-Iraq, and not just because they're not killing one another. It's more like a mini-European Union. In fact, that's the one thing everyone can agree on.


No country is more invested in the EU experiment than Belgium, whose capital, Brussels, is also the capital of the EU. If Belgium falls to sectarianism, what does that say about prospects for making Europe into a super-Belgium?


Belgium is a "laboratory," says Joelle Milquet, the leader of the French-speaking Humanist Democratic Center party and a defender of both a united Belgium and EU. "If 10 million people in a developed country do not manage to build a collective project," she told Britain's Telegraph newspaper, "that would signal the bankruptcy of what one tries to build at the European and even international level."


Paul Belien, a Flemish writer who favors an independent Flanders, agrees. "For me, the Belgian and EU flags are basically the same," he told the Telegraph. "They are a denial of identity."


But here's the hilarious irony of all this: The European Union is in effect subsidizing nationalism in Belgium and across the Continent. As the EU assumes more of the responsibilities of states — regulations, the economy, currency, possibly even defense — the cost of independence becomes lower.


Look at Scotland. The Scots are moving, perhaps inexorably, toward national independence from Britain. A referendum on breaking away could take place as early as 2010 and would likely pass. And why not? Scotland didn't formally become part of Britain until 1707, when it caved in to English threats to its trade and the free movement of people across the border. Now, thanks to the EU, such threats are illegal. And it's hardly likely that England would declare war on secessionist Scotland.


A similar process is under way in Kosovo, which wants to break from Serbia (the U.S. backs that idea) and get EU candidacy like Croatia and Macedonia. The Basques in Spain aren't far behind. In the past, ethnic enclaves probably couldn't make it on their own. But now the EU provides a safety net.


The catch-22 is delightful. By scaling back the job description of a nation-state to a few ceremonial duties, ethnic minorities see fewer risks and a lot more rewards in breaking away. Countries such as Slovakia get to trade on their votes in the EU and the U.N. They get their own anthems and sports teams and get to teach their own language and culture. It's like a McDonald's franchise. You man the register and keep the bathrooms clean, but the folks at corporate HQ do the heavy lifting. That's why the Basques, Scots and Flemings are looking to open their own franchises. The question is whether the nationalist hunger of such McNations can be satisfied by just the symbolism of autonomy.


This points to why I take so much pleasure in the troubles in Brussels. The EU always made the most sense to Belgians, who have a weak national identity. The myth was that everyone felt the same way.


Indeed, the EU project has always been predicated on self-serving myths. Another is the idea that with greater "understanding" comes greater peace and comity. The Walloons and the Flemings understand each other; they just don't like each other very much.


But what I really like about the Belgian crisis is that it puts a dent in the myth that Europe represents some enlightened new model exportable to the rest of the globe. After World War II and the Holocaust, a generation of diplomats and intellectuals predicted that nationality, religion and culture would matter less in the New Europe. But wishing didn't make it so. Obviously, nobody wants the bloody nationalism of early 20th century Europe. But it's nonetheless gratifying that even on the EU's Brussels campus, life resists the blueprints of the bureaucrats.

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