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Europe's crossroads; humanitarian aid for Syrians; diversity in Hollywood; Israel's new role; halting Zika virus

A roundup of global commentary for the Feb. 22 weekly magazine.

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    A man walks past containers at the entrance of the Calais refugee camp, in northern France, last month. Approximately 130 containers will be converted to shelters.
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EkathiMerini / Athens
Europe at a crossroads
“No one knows how this [European migrant] crisis will unfold. Political instability is growing and the political extremes are on the rise. If no solutions are reached, we shall see European countries shutting their borders...,” writes Alexis Papachelas. “Europe cannot escape reality. You cannot raise walls to protect some imaginary Christian club. At the same time, it is only fair to point out that Islam is to some degree incompatible with European values and that Muslims often find it hard to assimilate in European societies. We are standing at a crossroads. Europe will either move forward with small steps and compromises while struggling to get over the differences and contradictions, or it will backpedal as individual states choose isolation and nationalism until the European project comes totally undone.”

Arab News / Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Syrians need humanitarian airdrops
“As long as the Syrian government thinks that it could win militarily, there is no room for diplomacy...,” writes Hassan Barari as the third round of Geneva peace talks was put on hold. “If things go on unchecked, the crisis is most likely to deteriorate. Unless all stakeholders outside Syria fine-tune peace talks between the opposition and the Syrian government, it is hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Hence, the Syrian government backed by both Russia and Iran will try to create new facts on the ground to bolster [Bashar al-Assad’s] regime.... For the next round of talks to be meaningful, the United States and its allies should think of two things: Humanitarian airdrops and help the moderate opposition roll back the regime’s troops.”

The Globe and Mail / Toronto
Hollywood should expand its range of storytelling
“I learned long ago that Hollywood movies do not consider my existence. This isn’t ‘offensive,’ it’s just true...,” writes columnist Denise Balkissoon. “So when this year’s slate of Academy Award nominees turned out to be all white (and overwhelmingly male) for the second year in a row, my first reaction was that since movies don’t matter [it] didn’t matter at large. But of course it does. I tell stories for a living and Hollywood is the biggest storytelling machine in the world. Its successes and failures and prejudices and triumphs trickle down, whether I like it or not.... Accepting the erasure of non-mainstream stories in any realm is to accept it in my own life and my own work, and that is not an option.”

Recommended: Syrian refugee crisis: How to give

The Straits Times / Singapore
A new role for Israel in a changing Middle East?
“Israeli strategists still hope that most of their involvement [across the Middle East could] ... involve the creation of new regional allies. Some believe that a new Kurdish state, which may emerge in the Middle East, could break Israel’s isolation; the Kurds, unlike the Arabs, don’t view Israel with enmity. Other Israeli military planners suggest that their country could forge an alliance with ‘pragmatic’ Sunni states now confronting Iran...,” writes Jonathan Eyal. “However ... pro-Western Arab monarchies may privately welcome Israeli assistance, but are highly unlikely to forge more durable connections with Israel, at least as long as the Palestinian question remains unresolved. So, Israel will have to face the coming Middle Eastern storm with its usual mixture of force, diplomacy and deft playing-off of one power against another.”

Folha de S. Paulo / Sao Paulo, Brazil
Simple solutions to prevent spread of Zika virus
“It’s important to remember that this particular mosquito’s population was under control in the past. We’ve lost that control,” states an editorial addressing the spread of the Zika virus. “Before this Zika plague, the Aedes aegypti mosquito was already spreading dengue, leading to an explosion in the number of Brazilian cases.... A long-lasting solution is to bring public sanitation to the whole country. By solving the decade-old issue of safe water storage and garbage disposal and recycling, we could eliminate the places where the larvae reproduce. But at the current pace ... this could take another four decades.”

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