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26/06/2009

From the feuilletons

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Die Welt 20.06.2009

Henryk Broder has noticed a creeping delegitimisation of Israel in recent years. And German critics of the Jewish state are working hand in hand with the "useful idiots", he declares, in a speech which is printed in Die Welt. "With the murder of six million Jews, the Germans have qualified themselves for the job of ensuring that the survivors of the Holocaust behave properly. This is balsam to the wounded souls of those Germans who can only get over their past by pointing out that the Jews are no better. This is why German Anti-fascist groups are fighting the 'fascism' which determines Israel's politics. If the invitation to do so comes from Jews themselves, then the fight is even more fun, after all it's kosher. "


Süddeutsche Zeitung 20.06.2009

Andrian Kreye presents a study carried out by the film industry on illegal copying. The main problem, the study says is not illegal downloading but organised piracy. "Pirated films are an excellent source of low-risk cash. The profit margin lies around 1000 percent. This is more lucrative than the drugs trade. The threat of having to sit out a lengthy prison sentence is low. The USA has suspended sentences. ... And because the money is so easy, pirate copies are often a source of investment capital for financing other activities. One of these is human trafficking, according to the Rand Corporation."


Frankfurter Rundschau 23.06.2009

The author Isabel Fonseca reports on the scandalous treatment of the Roma in East Europe (also Italy), but primarily in Kosovo. Ten years ago when the Roma were driven out of their settlement areas by "ethnic Albanians", the UN refugee commission put them up in provisional camps, which just happened to be next to an old lead mine. They are still living- or rather dying - there today. "Ten years after the UN took over Kosovo, and after a series of unnatural deaths, miscarriages and countless newborn babies suffering from chronic brain damage (over half of the Roma living in the camp are under 10, every child born in the camp has some form of brain damage) there are no more than 700 Roma left. In 2007 the UN cancelled all medical supplies for cases of poisoning" and it has done nothing to get the Rome out of the death camp.


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 23.06.2009

Kristina Bergmann reports that Egypt has finally decided to translate books by Israeli authors into Arabic. 27 authors have been selected for the privilege, among them David Grossman and Amos Oz. Bergman suspects that this might have something to do with the nomination of the Egyptian Minister of Culture, Faruk Hosni, for UN general director: "Hosni recently assured the Egyptian parliament that there were no Israeli books in Egyptian libraries and if he heard evidence to the contrary, he would see to it personally that they were burned. There followed a storm of protest against his nomination and eventually Hosni apologised." To lubricate this u-turn, the books will not be translated directly from Hebrew but from a European language.


Die Welt 25.06.2009

Krisztina Koenen warns that the success of Hungary's ultra-right party Jobbik presents a threat for the whole of Europe. The chauvinism that has taken over Hungary, she explains, goes back to Empire days. "The Hungarians, as Austria's junior partner in the monarchy, has always viewed itself as a superior race, with little but contempt for their neighbours and minorities. Antisemitism, contempt for the Roma, but also for the Slovaks, the Romanians, and the Ukrainians, has been present ever since. Then, of course, the Treaty of Trianon at the end of the First World War, robbed the country of nearly a third of its territory and 'rewarded' the hated Slovaks, Romanians and Ukrainians in the process. This rounded off the conspiracy for every upstanding Hungarian and so it was only natural that throughout the Second World War, Hungary would remain loyal to Germany to the last, in the hope of seeing its borders restored." Naturally there was no confrontation of this past under Communism.


Die Tageszeitung 25.06.2009

German-Iranian journalist Saba Farzan is not surprised that the demonstrators in Iran are mostly made women and youths. "The 'Islamisation' of the universities meant that a whole list of courses were not open to female students, on the basis that woman are two emotional for the majority of the natural sciences, for example. The same argument prevented women from becoming judges. (...) And when young medical graduates are forced to sell pistachio nuts on street corners to make ends meet, then sooner or later they will start to have their doubts about the system. (...) Anyone with any in-depth knowledge of Iranian society knew that it was only a question of time before the younger generation rebelled against a backwards-thinking dictatorship."


Die Zeit 25.06.2009

German-Iranian writer Navid Kermani is keeping a diary (more here) from Tehran in which he describes impressive scenes from the uprising - and how the Ayatollah's are doing their best to quash it. "As a helicopter circles overhead, the construction workers building the subway next to the city motorway are standing on multi-storey mobile homes, making the victory sign of the reformers, as are people in cars stuck in the traffic. When a group of young people on the motorway manage to send a unit of Basijis packing, the drivers sound their horns, some climb out of their cars and start dancing. People standing on the roofs of the nearby houses and the pedestrian bridge I am standing on, shouting 'death to the dictatorship'. Then the military arrive. The demonstrators jump over the side rail, some escape in cars. I hear someone shout 'everyone honk!' Immediately a concert of horns breaks out. Militias are positioned on every street corner, in the North they've resorted to old men with white bears and lanky boys, no older than 15. The calls of 'God is greater' are louder this evening, and they continue longer into the night."

Anita Blasberg travelled with theatre director Christoph Schlingensief to Burkina Faso, to see how his plans are developing to build an opera house for Africa, several hours drive from Ouagadougou. "After his speech in the Goethe Institute, Schlingensief looked out onto a sea of puzzled faces. 'You are a great man who believes in what he is doing,' one theatre owner finally piped up, 'but what is your plan exactly?' 'What language will you use for your productions? asks a woman who runs a cinema. 'What do you want from us?' a woman from the ministry of information wants to know. Schliengensief quotes Beuys. The cause lies in the future. 'We don't know yet what we will do here, but we will understand in the future.'"

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