In the Programme:
Is Poland Israel’s springboard into the European Union? Jews and Muslims on the friendship tour in France, and a cartoon series poking fun at the Pope, divides Germany.
POLAND: How membership of the EU has transformed Polish/Israeli relations.
Israel marked 58 years of independence this week. At the same time, the country’s new government took office. The European Union hopes Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will push ahead efforts to bring peace to the Middle East. Relations between Brussels and Jerusalem have often been strained. And there’s a widely held belief in Israel that the EU is more concerned with the plight of Palestinians than the suffering of Israelis. But one EU member state - Poland - has developed a ”special relationship” with Israel. A fifth of the Israeli population has roots in Poland. The community was decimated during the Nazi Third Reich. Then under communism, waves of Jews were driven out of the country in anti-Semitic purges. Democracy and membership of the EU however have transformed Polish/Israeli relations.
FRANCE: Can a Friendship Bus Change relations between Jews and Muslims
While Poland was home to one of the largest and most important Jewish communities in Europe before World War II, it’s nowadays France that has the continent’s largest Jewish community – with more than five hundred thousand Jews. But France is also home to Europe’s largest Muslim community which numbers around 5 million, and relations between the two religious groups have been uneasy and strained. A small group of Jews and Muslims is now determined to change this. In an attempt to bring people from different religious beliefs together the Jewish Muslim Friendship Group launched a ”friendship bus” touring the country. The bus has been on the road for the past year and is currently touring the suburbs of Paris – both the run down housing estates, and the more posh residential neighbourhoods.
BRUSSELS. Angus Roxburgh’s weekly briefing from Brussels.
GERMANY: A cartoon series poking fun at the Pope divides Germany.
No doubt you’ll recall the outcry and rioting a few months back, caused by the publication throughout Europe of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Now, another religious controversy is causing a stir in European media - this time involving a cartoon series poking fun at the Vatican. Despite being banned in Britain, the contentious Popetown cartoon aired this week in Germany on the music channel MTV. Following criticism, MTV had decided to test public opinion and broadcast only the first episode with a live discussion including religious and community leaders. In the meantime a court in Munich has rejected attempts by the church to ban the cartoon and a final decision is expected next week.
ROMANIA: Adam and Eve
Over the past few years a number of companies have sprung up which can trace your genetic background. It’s an interesting exercise for those of us who simply want to track down our family roots. But scientists are also using this technology to discover the origins of human kind - and potentially who the genetic Adam and Eve were. The most ambitious effort by far is the National Geographic Society’s 40 million Genographic Project.
SWEDEN: Apathetic Children on the mend
And to another area of scientific research - and the subject of a heated debate in Sweden. Several hundred children from traumatized asylum-seeking families in Sweden have developed in the past few years severe loss of mental and physical functions without evidence of underlying disease.
It’s called the Pervasive Refusal Syndrome. Now, a study published this week has shown that the number of children suffering from this syndrome has dropped. Their situation seems to be improving as their families are being granted asylum.
Closing Music : OI VA VOI