Tuesday, October 27, 2009


During Fascist times of World War II, Italy’s racists were definitely a minority. Her Jews, although persecuted by Italy’s racist minority, never felt hated by her people. Many scientists and intellectuals who fled the persecution, after the war returned to what they still considered their homeland and the people they loved. Now Gruppo Everyone and the anti-racist networks, from where I stand sound like a tiny chorus in a tumultuous sea of racial hatred backed up by indifference.

“The situation of Roma citizens in Italy is getting more and more desperate every day,” writes Gruppo Everyone. “A persecution taking place among the indifference and silence of the media.” Of course most newspapers and TV stations are controlled by both Right and Left Wing political parties. Berlusconi is the boss of many.

In the Germany of World War II, the extent of the genocides were made possible by the overwhelming numbers of Germans turned persecutors and the indifference of the rest of the population. Opposition was almost non-existent.

Has Italy’s once human heart turned into a heart of darkness?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


That condemns roughly 10,000 Roma to a life of daily threat, harassment, and a life of fear in a segregated community.

Roma rights Organization Chachipe states:

“Contrary to what is said by the German authorities the situation of Roma in Kosovo has not improved drastically. Roma continue to be victims of widespread discrimination and violations of their human rights.”

In 2002 I stayed with a Roma family in Kosovo. They lived in ramshackle houses with out- houses and water from a communal pump. Some lived on toxic dumps, where children were born deformed, all children tested extremely high on blood levels of lead. Parents were afraid to send their children to school. Roma who sat on the backseats while some of us Westerners drove through towns, ducked so as not to be recognized and attacked. There was fear of attacks during the night. There was very little food, lack of firewood for the cold winters. Gasoline was purchased on the black market in one-liter wine bottles.

As always Gypsies do the best with what they’ve got: The inside of their shacks were clean and cozy, their children unfed but well looked after, as is their custom, they were protective of their guests

Having grown up in Europe during the war, I know for a fact that attitudes in Europe change slowly, if at all. The resurgence of racism 60 years after the holocaust seems prove that the same hatred has kept on smoldering under promises of modern-day democracies. Activist over here in the U.S., human rights activists from all over the world,

have to unite to prevent this new version of a previous genocide. Kosovo would be a good start to keep an unrelenting vigil, because when I was there, NATO soldiers seemed to look the other way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Having known Gypsies or Roma for most of my life, I have always looked upon fortune-telling as a form of entertainment, to my eyes harmless entertainment. I myself, whenever life dealt me a dirty blow and I needed my spirits lifted, rather than seeing a psychiatrist, who would approach my problem by digging it up and spreading it wide, I personally did not hesitate to visit a fortune-teller instead. Placed in cozy surroundings, it is in such a person’s interest to make me feel better, otherwise no return business. By the way, I never sought out a Gypsy for that sort of service, knowing how they feel about it, and afraid that with their keen eyes they would read what I knew about them, namely that those with the true gift would hardly steep down to the entertainment business.

So what about the true gift? Not only born to it but born with the patience to develop and belief in their natural abilities? Urania Boswell, was born in 1852 in England and became famous for her special sensitivity to the approach of danger and/or death. She was able to predict not only the time of her son’s and brother’s death, but the year of Queen Victoria’s death, four years before it happened. Such power not only impressed non-Gypsies, or gadje, but it is a power that frightens fellow Gypsies.

I myself, ever since I was a child growing up with partisans and people on the run in the woods of Germany and Poland during World War II, had this horrible sensitivity to feel either the actual moment of death of people close to me but fighting at great distances away, or foresee the early death of people I love. Something to think about.

Friday, October 9, 2009


[Roma Daily News] Romania: Roma, between tradition and law

“The marriage is one of the characteristic elements of the Roma culture, tradition and way of life, and the subject of early marriages attracted international attention. Adapting to European legislation determined significant changes inside Roma communities, which try to adept their traditions to the modern law provisions.”

Roma/Gypsies have always considered children to be the true wealth of their culture. Early marriage not only kept the young women virginal till marriage, thereby assuring true bloodlines, but assured a great number of offspring. The number of children was also the greatest trump card in the Roma fight for survival. And these children are brought up to survive the harshness of Gypsy life. They receive much love, but from early on they are taught to contribute to their family means of survival. In the past they earned their living within traditional Gypsy trades, arts, and craftsmanship. Unfortunately modern life has eliminated the need for many of these traditional occupations. But as far back as Roma history is recorded in Europe, the rulers of the majority population have focused on attacking this greatest wealth of Roma culture, their children. Already under Maria Theresa of Austria children were taken from their Roma families and placed into Christian foster homes, Roma women were and to this day are sterilized against their will, and on and on. This has never met with ultimate success. The Roma family is a warm circle of life. It was and is the culture’s core strength.

Unfortunately on this more and more overcrowded planet, we all have to compromise, stick to laws that apply to all. I have no doubt that, once those Roma will be presented with the equal rights and the protections that go with those laws, to which they have a right as citizens of Europe, they will bend their laws to conform. Chaucer had a saying: The stick that bends doesn’t break. The Gypsies are masters at flexibility; it is how they have survived on their long trail of tears.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Friday, October 2, 2009 [Roma Daily News]:

“Gypsy women consider themselves as inferior to men and vulnerable because of lack of education, a Soros survey has revealed. Gypsy women have low self-esteem and are vulnerable to poverty, lack of social assistance and illnesses provoked by repeated early pregnancies.”

A society where leadership is balanced by male and female input is proven to serve its people best. Women will add the necessary caution for survival to male leadership which may exhibit too much aggression. Studies of dealing with juvenile delinquency have shown that the girls in young men’s life are often the best means to bridle their lawlessness. There are indeed among Gypsy tribes, namely the Lovara, the horse-dealers, where leadership at the top was divided between a male and a female leader. Unfortunately, among today’s Roma majority, the women are indeed kept suppressed and illiterate. If this is subconsciously maintained to enhance the confidence of Roma men, and as a result they have a lot of self-interested, divisive male leaders, these leaders are not only cutting their own flesh, but that of their people. Roma must unite. Their women’s voices have to be heard. They have to stand as equals, side by side, to avert the disaster that is brewing all over Europe, and if successful there, will spread like a virus to Roma over here as well.

Friday, October 2, 2009


As per except from Policy Center for Roma and Minorities [Roma Daily News]:

“The Roma community’s leadership is weak. The Roma suffer from bitter infighting. Successful, integrated Roma are either afraid to admit that they are Roma or care little about the conditions less-fortunate, and more visible maligned Roma suffer.”

Part of the survival technique of Gypsies/Roma while still nomadic, was the wise choice of a leader. Leadership was not hereditary, but elected by the tribe. A leader had to be intelligent, a shrewd manipulator and tradesman, most of all he had to set the interest of his tribe high above his own. He took care of his people first and foremost. In certain tribes, like the Lovara, leadership at the top was divided between a male and an elder female leader. They brought different sets of insights to the art of survival. Roma leaders of today, and I am referring to Europe, are often lured by government agencies and NGO’s to step forward as spokesmen and leaders of their tribes to negotiate with the outside world. This usually brings to these chosen individuals advantages and privileges, i.e. easier access to work and money grants. Mostly such opportunities turn into self-interest, corrupting these chosen individuals from the start into offering lip service to the donors and leaving the neediest Gypsies more and more isolated to fend for themselves. Although in this world of shrinking living space Gypsies will have to adjust, they must return to some of the valuable qualities of their former way of life. Theirs was a beautiful, harmonious culture.