20/01/2006

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 20.01.2006

In June 2003, the writer Ibrahim Al-Hariri left exile to return to his native Iraq. The SZ is printing a series of his written reflections. "Since the existence of the al-Zarqawi phenomenon all sorts of Iraqis live in constant fear for their lives, not only communists, democrats, liberals and free-thinkers, Shiites and Sunnis. I too live in constant fear. Even though I've long been on friendly terms with the idea of death, I am seventy after all. But I'm haunted by the idea of having my throat slit like a chicken. What if the slaughterer botches the job. Or the knife is blunt? These considerations torment me more than the thought of being slain by Zarqawi's associates. Of course there are plenty of other terror cliques who would do the job, the 'Neo- Zarqawists', for example, or the ever-faithful Saddam followers. I got so obsessed that I developed an interest in different methods of decapitation. I asked local butchers about the quickest way to go about it. And their reaction was one of shock because I have a peace-loving reputation. In my whole life, I've never even killed a chicken."


Die Welt, 20.01.2006

Now that Bolivia has elected its first 'Indio' president, Evo Morales, author Mario Vargas Llosa warns against left-wing romanticising and reverse racism. "To squeeze Latin America's problems into a grid of ethnicity and skin colour, as these demagogues are doing, is utterly irresponsible. The idiotic anti-Indio prejudices held by certain Latin Americans who describe themselves as white, are simply being reversed and the Indio is indulging in his stereotypes against 'the whites'. Isaac Humala, the father of two presidential candidates in April in Peru recently made it very clear to a Peruvian dinner gathering what would happen if one of his offspring came into power: Peru, so he said, would be a country where only the 'copper-skinned inhabitants of the Andes' had full national rights. The rest – white, black, yellow – would be 'state subjects' with certain rights. Had a 'white' Latin American painted this picture, he would be, and rightly so, hounded by international outrage."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 20.01.2006

The Japanese government intends to introduce a law making it possible for a woman to take the throne, and so send a positive signal to the country's women, writes Florian Coulmas. This seems to be urgently needed: "After twenty years of anti-discrimination laws, Japanese women are much farther from equal status than women in other industrial countries. Many women have been not only embittered by this, they have also stopped having children. Recent statistics show that Japan's population has started to shrink, two years before the date forecast just a few months back. In 2005 deaths outnumbered births by 10,000. If the women continue taking such an ill view of child bearing, this depopulation will quickly gather speed."

A tribunal has granted five of the most famous paintings by Gustav Klimt with an estimated value of 200 million euros to heiress Maria Altmann and her relatives. The trial, which dragged on for more than six years, does not put Austria in a particularly favourable light, writes Paul Jandl. "Randol Schoenberg, Maria Altmann's lawyer and grandson of composer Arnold Schönberg, has repeatedly criticized the Austrian side of 'formalism'. When Maria Altmann wrote to the Austrian government seven years ago indicating her readiness to negotiate, her letter was not even answered by Elisabeth Gehrer, the minister responsible. Now the case is over, Gehrer's restitution policy is seriously damaged. During the court case, the government side did not show the slightest conciliatory gesture. Now everyone is up in arms."


Berliner Zeitung, 20.01.2006

In light of Steven Spielberg's film "Munich", Israeli historian and expert on German affairs Moshe Zimmermann reflects on the hostage-taking of the Israeli Olympic team: "With the Palestinian attack in the Olympic village in Munich, the Israelis could bring together and activate the spectres of its two major historical enemies – the Arabs (in this case the Palestinians) and the Germans. In the Israeli perception of the events of September 1972, these spectres overshadowed both the failures of its own security services and the role of the Soviets and their henchmen in the attack. They also diverted attention from the attitude of the American IOC president, Avery Brundage, who already at the Berlin games in 1936 could not be won over to Jewish requests – for example the boycott of the Nazi games."


Die Tageszeitung, 20.01.2006

Georg Patzer calls the show "Female" by South African artist Marlene Dumas (pictures) in the Kunsthalle in Baden-Baden "an intensely luminous exhibition, and one of the most beautiful ever put on in this city." Patzer continues, "Every single portrait depicts a personality. Dumas' rough style of drawing hits a vital chord without overdoing or oversimplifying things the way caricatures do. With minimal means she shows mischievousness, shadowing, inner calm, mistrust and hesitation."

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The FR laps up the muscular male bodies and bellies at the Michelangelo exhibition in the Viennese Albertina. The same paper is outraged by the cowardice of the Berlin exhibition "Hitler and the Germans". Mario Vargas-Llosa remembers a bad line from Sweden. Theologist Friedrich Wilhelm Graf makes it very clear that Western values are not Judaeo-Christian values. The Achse des Guten is annoyed by the attempts of the mainstream media to dismiss Mario Vargas-Llosa. The NZZ celebrates the tireless self-demolition of Polish writer and satirist Slawomir Mrozek.
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