Features » Magazine Roundup


Magazine Roundup

Elet es Irodalom | The New Yorker | Merkur | Die Weltwoche | The New York Review of Books | Gazeta Wyborcza | London Review of Books | Al Ahram Weekly | Esprit | The Spectator | The New York Times Book Review

Elet es Irodalom, 28.07.2006 (Hungary)

In an interview with Eszter Raday, Nobel Prizewinner Imre Kertesz analyses anti-Semitism in Europe: "In democratic states, criticism of Israel provides a new and effective avenue for anti-Semitism - particularly when Israel does something that prompts criticism, which by the way other states do, too, whether or not they have to fight for their existence. A language has developed that I would like to call Euro-anti-Semitism. For a Euro-anti-Semite it is no contradiction to recall the victims of the Holocaust in mournful tones, and in the next breath, under the guise of criticism of Israel, to utter anti-Semitic statements. It has been repeated so often that it is almost a clichee: Remembrance of the Holocaust is important to stop such things from happening again. But in fact nothing has happened since Auschwitz that would prevent another Auschwitz from happening. On the contrary. Before Auschwitz, the extermination camp was unimaginable. Today it can be imagined. Because Auschwitz really happened, it has permeated our imagination, become a permanent part of us. What we are able to imagine - because it really happened - can happen again."

The New Yorker, 07.08.2006 (USA)

Reporter Jon Lee Anderson sends a very long and instructive report from Lebanon, for which he also spoke with several Hizbullah functionaries, bringing back some sad tidings: "Even if Israel manages to dislodge Hizbollah's fighters, Nasrallah will likely remain the most powerful politician in the country, in part because the chaos of the last weeks has exposed the weakness of the government. Most of the Lebanese analysts I spoke with said they believed that Hizbollah had, on its own terms, been significantly strengthened by the conflict."

Merkur, 01.08.2006 (Germany)

"It's been a long time since history has been contested," asserts Ulrich Speck in his history column. It is possible to conclude that, with so much consensus, there might be nothing left to discuss - were it not for the two historians, Götz Aly ("Hitlers Volksstaat") and Gerd Koenen (info in German) ("Vesper, Ensslin, Bader"), whose work appears to shed new light not only on the past but also the present: "They are focused on one thing - the enlightenment of the present over itself. Both men are to some extent dissidents, in that they question what's taken for granted. However they don't do this in an ideological manner, by contrasting opinions with each other, but rather with the aid of sources that they discover and develop anew - a very basic aspect of their work. The illuminating details put the bigger picture in question, and the resulting conclusions refute the certainty of the status quo. Koenen and Aly, for whom it is no accident that they are working outside the strictures of the university system, make it clear through their research that it is possible to rediscover history beyond issues of national identity, confrontation with history and antiquarian administration."

Die Weltwoche, 31.07.2006 (Switzerland)

Filippo Leutenegger, CEO of Jean Frey AG, reports to readers that Roger Köppel "will be the majority shareholder of the newly founded Weltwoche Publishing AG (WW)" as well as the new editor in chief of Weltwoche. In a second text, the administrative board and publishing directorship of Jean Frey AG express their "conviction that the new leadership structure will not only raise the journalistic power of the paper, but at the same time present a unique selling position, reflecting the character of the Swiss quality name Weltwoche in a special way."

Hanspeter Born seeks consolation from his former editor in chief Jürg Ramspeck. He says nothing against Köppel, but has his own idea - influenced by the founders - of what makes a good newspaper. "I had the impression that the founders were not leadership types. They deliberately did not participate in leadership seminars, they never expressed theories of any sort. They judged their newspaper staff not so much by the quality of their writing style as by their overall personalities. To the founders, a good journalist was not someone who merely had a way with words, but someone whose texts made their personality palpable. As a result of that approach, the founders in fact discovered a considerable number of distinguished personalities. They led Die Weltwoche as a publication of people with something to say, and not as a newspaper of smart, good journalists."

The New York Review of Books, 10.08.2006 (USA)

On January 22, 2006 coca farmer Evo Morales was elected president of Bolivia by Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS - information in Spanish here). Alma Guillermoprieto asks whether he is really descended from Indians and what that means for Bolivians. The administration itself is amazing: "ministers chew coca leaf ceremoniously in Cabinet meetings; the minister of justice is a woman who until recently worked as a maid; the leader of the Senate is a rural schoolteacher. And Sacarias Flores, who crisscrosses the land on party business every week and is theoretically a very powerful man, comes home to his fields to try to figure out how he will make a living in the future. Other revolutions in Bolivia and elsewhere in Latin America have taken power in the name of the poor, other political parties have attracted a mass following, other native Americans—perhaps most notably Benito Juarez of Mexico in the 1850s—have become president, but nowhere else has a grass-roots party whose members are not only crushingly poor but overwhelmingly Indian taken charge of a government."

Gazeta Wyborcza, 29.07.2006 (Poland)

A "little Jedwabne debate" (more information here) has taken place in Poland, almost unnoticed. This time, too, it revolves around a book about Polish anti-Semitism by Polish-American sociologist Jan T. Gross: "Fear". Historian Piotr Wrobel reflects the attitude of Poles when he says: "The way Gross writes about anti-Semitic riots after 1945 will disturb the inner peace and the world view of many readers." Even if he does not agree with all of Gross' arguments, Wrobel admits: "I wish I could write books like those!"

July 27 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jerzy Giedroyc, who founded the magazine Kultura in 1947 in Paris. Kultura was the major publication of exiled Poles, and published pieces by many of the best-known exiles, including Czeslaw Milosz, Zbigniew Herbert, Witold Gombrowicz and others. The Parisian suburb of Maison Laffitte was home to a formative intellectual current that did much to shape Poles' understanding of themselves after 1945, especially concerning the relationship to their Eastern neighbours. The Gazeta Wyborcza publishes a long essay honouring "The Editor" (as Giedroyc is referred known – the capital letters are untypical for Polish). And Adam Michnik writes: "He was one of the greatest Poles of the 20th century. Contemporary Polish history can't be understood without a grasp of his work. He sacrificed everything for Poland, he had no private life. He was the foremost Polish politician in the post-Yalta world. Yet he engaged in politics from his desk. He had no stringent programme – sovereignty and democracy were enough for him."

London Review of Books, 03.08.2006 (UK)

"How could a minor military operation undertaken by Hizbullah send Lebanon back to square one?" asks Lebanese author Elias Khoury, who offers the following explanation: "The Israelis say they do not want to occupy Lebanon. This is also what the Americans say about Iraq. The issue, however, is not what they want but what they are doing. Can Israel tolerate religious and ethnic chaos on its borders? Is it performing a service to the United States by trying to weaken Hizbullah, Iran's strongest ally in the region, prior to the opening up of the Iranian nuclear file? What is clear, beneath the drone of the missiles hurled at the southern suburbs of Beirut, is that Israel, realising it is incapable of destroying Hizbullah, has decided to destroy Lebanon."

Al Ahram Weekly, 27.07.2006 (Egypt)

In a talk with Youssef Rakha, publicist Hafez El-Marazi explains the role of Arab news broadcaster Al-Jazeera's Washington Bureau, which he has headed since 2000: "In the Arab media we go out of our way to bring in English speakers and give ourselves the headache of simultaneous interpretation. You go into that pain to present their views. But look at what they do. They have Arab English speakers, they don't even need translation. And they don't host them. They bring in someone from a so-called Middle East think-tank that is flagrantly biased... And when we started to bother the rulers in America they just acted the same way as the official media of some Arab regimes."

Esprit, 01.08.2006 (France)

The left-wing Catholic monthly has a new website. Some articles are even freely accessible. The latest issue (contents here) features a dossier on terrorism and the fight against it. Olivier Mongin also writes a long piece in honour of Serge July, who was obliged to leave Liberation, the newspaper he founded, at the request of the new owner Edouard de Rothschild. Among other things, Mongin praises July's aestheticisation of journalism which made Liberation a new kind of paper: "July's focus on new types of expression incorporating photography, an interest in fashion, and cooperation with artists or 'creatives' cannot be separated from the journalistic Utopia he was trying to create: the Utopia of the 'total newspaper.' That is the dream of a daily magazine integrating all forms of image and text, and using them to provocative ends. The total newspaper is an aesthetic, intellectual and political relay station, an organic synthesis, a summit of journalistic diversity. But this Utopia was dashed to pieces by reality."

The Spectator, 29.07.2006 (UK)

Denis MacShane reminds readers that the British government under Neville Chamberlain played a role in the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War: "Seventy years ago this month (July) a British pilot took off from Croydon airport. On his Dragon Rapide aeroplane were a Spanish newspaper man, an MI6 officer and two pretty young women for cover. They flew via France and Portugal to the Canary Islands. There they picked up a no-nonsense conservative general called Franco. The plane took him back to his soldiers at the Spanish Foreign Legion base in Morocco. From there Franco, who had won the plaudits of the Spanish and European Right by his brutal suppression of a strike by starving miners in the Asturias in 1934, launched the invasion of Spain to overthrow the centre-left government that had just been elected."

The New York Times Book Review, 30.07.2006 (USA)

In the New York Times Magazine, Rob Walker looks at how rebellious youths are articulating themselves today. Not cynically, but optimistically, pragmatically. Not in art or music, but as a trademark: "If the dance between subculture and mainstream has always been more compromised than it appears and if every iteration of the bohemian idea is steadily more entrepreneurial than the last, then maybe a product-based counterculture is inevitable. Maybe subcultures are always about turning lifestyles into business — or the very similar goal of never having to grow up. Maybe the familiar corporations-against-individuals dynamic... is simply outdated." - let's talk european