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09/08/2006

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.

Die Tageszeitung, 09.08.2006

Tjark Kunstreich sharply criticises European politics for refusing to take seriously Israel's fight against Islamic anti-Semitism and actually lending legitimacy to this anti-Semitism by promoting negotiations. Kunstreich picks up on the term of "Euro-anti-Semitism" that author Imre Kertesz recently used to describe the attitudes of Europeans. Kunstreich also takes the media to task for reporting on Israeli Jews "only as perpetrators and aggressors," whereas the Hizbullah, on the other hand, shows up "just as rarely" as does the misery of refugees on the Israeli side. The thesis may, he admits, sound "completely nutty at first: Why should Europe have a vested interest in Islamic terror against Israel? The reason is rather simple, but refers to something no less irrational: For Europeans, the terror against Israel serves primarily as a distraction from the fascist clerical threat posed by political Islam in this region. As long as there is no Palestinian state, there will be no peace - that is the credo of European politics. But meanwhile it has become clear, through the geo-political eruptions and collapses of the last decade, that a Palestinian state is absolutely no guarantee of Israel's security, nor does it amount to an end to the conflict."


Berlin Islam expert Stefan Rosiny gives an interview on the Lebanese Hizbullah. His thesis: The Hizbullah may talk about the destruction of Israel, but it is primarily a resistance movement whose platform is a "nationalist development project" where the words "Islam" and "Muslim" appear only on the periphery. On the opinion pages, writer Ilija Trojanow criticises the "you started it" rhetoric of the Israelis: "Hundreds of civilians are dead and one million Lebanese driven from their homes, and only the incantation of the accusation 'you started it' stands between the state of Israel and its responsibility for a war of aggression, or mass murder."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 09.08.2006


In an interview, Beirut architect Bernard Khoury talks about the politics of destruction, reconstruction, destruction again and the prospect of a new post-war era. "There was an alarming discrepancy between the image of life that was projected from the 'Paris of the Middle East' and the misery in the South, where this war, like the one before it, started... Even before this current war they were worlds apart. In the past all buildings of economic and political import were concentrated in Beirut. That was a political error. The civil war contributed, even if the process was painful, to the decentralisation of the country. It would have been better to continue in this direction. Instead the uneven distribution of funds for reconstruction simply radicalised the population in the South. The people were driven into the arms of the Hizbullah. The reconstruction also demonstrates the lack of any serious attempt to construct a coherent state in Lebanon."

Gerhard Matzig addresses the question of whether Europe should get on the global skyscraper bandwagon. His answer: a definite yes. "If Europe doesn't want to become an old town museum for the Asian world and at the same time wishes to preserve its unusual urban cultural heritage in a vital way, it has to tackle the height issue – avoiding the ecological and economic nonsense of the super skyscraper – but with a sense of the vertical as living space.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 09.08.2006


Andreas Obst accompanied the German Federal Youth Orchestra on its trip to Venezuela, whose "Sistema Nacional de Orquestas," which Hugo Chavez personally champions, has attracted world-wide attention. He also listened to a number of concerts given by these orchestras, which are made up of children from the slums, and he was deeply impressed and incredibly moved. "The actual welcoming concert on the next day by the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of Venezuela under Gustavo Dudamel, with the great chunk of Mahler's Fifth Symphony, seemed more like a study in sound gesturing – although the demonstration was strangely bland. Despite the ability of these Venezuelan orchestras to show strength in a fulminating mass of sound, the musical detail remains indecisive. Their palette is comprised of only gaudy tones, and as a whole the impact seems somewhat Potemkinesque."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 09.08.2006


The former home of writer Thomas Mann, also known as "Poschi", is to be reconstructed at Munich's Herzogpark. A "disaster", says Ingo Flothen: "The dead Poschi is to be reanimated. At least the façade - Munich has decided - will rise again. The architect has a free hand with the interior, but the exterior, if you please, should be an unsullied reconstruction: the city's exiled son has the right to expect as much. And Thomas Mann himself has to answer for the grotesque bric-a-brac idea: As he is cited, 'To follow an example in one's own way, that is tradition.'"

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