2008-12-26

Happy Weihnukka - lesenswertes aus dem Netz

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[cc] photo credit: chaosinjune

Wenn die Kameras ausgeschaltet sind...

„Jeden Morgen, wenn ich in den Spiegel schaue, weiß ich gar nicht, wen ich eigentlich vor mir sehe”, sagt Wadie Abunassar. Der Politologe aus Haifa ist nicht geisteskrank. Sein Identitätsproblem ist typisch für die Lage der rund 110.000 Christen in Israel, die im Konflikt zwischen Israelis, Palästinensern, Muslimen und Juden zwischen allen Fronten stehen. Den muslimischen Palästinensern und den Juden sind sie suspekt, weil sie Christen sind. In europäischen Kirchen haben sie kaum Einfluss, weil sie Araber sind. So wissen die Christen nicht, zu wem sie eigentlich gehören. In den anhaltenden Konflikten in Nahost werden die Kirchen im Heiligen Land zusehends zerrieben.

Gil Yaron: Zwischen allen Stühlen: Christen in Israel
Wenn man in Jerusalem Berliner verkauft...

Chanukah traditions in Israel are many—it's hard to escape the ubiquitous offerings of sufganiyot (doughnuts with every conceivable kind of gooey filling) that turn up at business meetings and social gatherings during the festival. School kids are on vacation and every shopping mall and park hosts elaborate children's entertainment. But one of the most popular Chanukah activities in Jerusalem is walking around the older neighborhoods to see the lights in action.

Groups of secular Israelis from all over the country gather to gape in awe at their ultra--Orthodox brethren who celebrate Chanukah in the picturesque Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot.

Part of the commandment of the eight-day festival is to publicize the miracle of the Jewish victory over the Hellenists. That means placing the lit Chanukiya outside one's home. In parts of Nachlaot, just behind the Machane Yehuda market, almost every home has a Chanukiya burning brightly outside the door in the early evening hours. They're filled with oil (where did candles come from, anyway??) and enclosed in a brass and glass holder.

Judy Lash Balint: Chanuka Jerusalem-style

 

Wenn der Holocaust in die Kinos zurückkehrt...

Almost 50 years after "The Diary of Anne Frank," Holocaust dramas are finally coming of age. There are five releases this holiday season, and each enters new, morally complex territory. They include "Valkyrie," starring Tom Cruise as the real-life German officer who tried to assassinate Hitler in 1944; "The Reader," with Kate Winslet as a (fictional) woman on trial for war crimes; and "Good," in which Viggo Mortensen plays a German professor caught up in the rise of Nazism. We've come to expect on-screen Nazis during the holidays, given Hollywood's tendency to release its Really Important Movies at the end of the year. And there's nothing more likely to earn an Oscar nomination than a film related to the Holocaust.

That said, the Holocaust movie is one of Hollywood's most unlikely staples in any season. There's an inherent tension between commercial films and depicting the 20th century's most unimaginable atrocity. The nature of narrative in general, and of mainstream movies in particular, is to be reassuring. But the Shoah offers few resolutions that can fit neatly into a two-hour package. In order to offer the requisite feel-good conclusion that reflects the triumph of the human spirit, the horrors often get sanitized. "Defiance" tells the true story of three brothers who escape the Nazis and lead a Jewish uprising in the Belarussian forest. It is the rare Hollywood Holocaust movie that puts Jews at its center, perhaps because the scale of their destruction during World War II far outweighs the few tales of uplift. As Frank Rich once pointedly noted, the Jews in "Schindler's List" were relegated to background players, extras in their own drama.

 Annette Insdorf: Nazis and the Movies

 

Wenn der Antisemitismus von links und rechts in Europa an Stärke gewinnt...

As Europe faces up to its old demons of financial breakdown and job losses, a wind from the past is blowing through the continent. The politics of moderate center-right and left-liberal democracy that took power after 1945 are giving way to a new old populism. The extravagant rhetoric of the demagogic left and right is gaining ground, and the most obvious manifestation is the return of anti-Semitism as an organizing ideology.

Consider the numbers: according to a recent Pew survey, the percentage of Germans who hold unfavorable views of Jews has climbed from 20 percent in 2004 to 25 percent today. In France, which has the largest number of Jews of any European nation, 20 percent of people view Jews unfavorably—up from 11 percent four years ago. In Spain, the figures are even more striking: negative views of Jews climbed from 21 percent in 2005 to nearly one in two this year. In Britain, where the numbers have remained around 9 percent for some time, anecdotal evidence of increased animosity abounds: youngsters returning from the Jewish Free School in middle-class North London are now frightened to go home on public buses on account of anti-Jewish attacks. Their parents hire private buses, as the London police seem unable to staunch anti-Semitic assaults on their children. In Manchester, a Jewish cemetery had to have a Nazi swastika hurriedly cleaned off its walls before a VIP party arrived.

Denis MacShane: Europe’s Jewish Problem

 

Wenn Muslime in Marokko sich heimlich zum Christentum bekennen...

Die Weihnachtsfeier ist geheim: ein Haus in Casablanca, dessen Adresse nicht preisgegeben wird. Einige Dutzend Leute werden erwartet, man wird christliche arabische Lieder singen, die Bibel lesen und beten. Möglichst leise. Denn die Nachbarn werden kaum verstehen, dass man Marokkaner und Christ zugleich sein kann. „Wir leben wie die frühen Christen“, sagt Ahmed F., der oft solche Versammlungen organisiert. Diesmal will er riskieren, Journalisten mitzubringen, obwohl niemand unter den Gläubigen seinen Namen gedruckt sehen möchte. Selbst Telefonkontakte stoßen auf großes Misstrauen. In letzter Minute ist Ahmed verhindert. Wer nicht schon einmal dabei war und die Adresse kennt, muss Weihnachten allein feiern.

„Es ist wie unter den Römern: Der Gottesdienst wird immer zu Hause abgehalten“, sagt auch Abdelhalim B., ein etwa 40-jähriger Marokkaner, der während seines Studiums in Europa zum Protestantismus übertrat. Abdelhalims Wohnzimmer in der Küstenstadt Kenitra dient der kleinen örtlichen Gemeinde als Kirche. Nur ein kleines gesticktes Kreuz an der Wand und ein paar weihnachtliche Engel weisen darauf hin. „Wir brauchen keine Äußerlichkeiten, wichtig ist die Lehre“, sagt Abdelhalim.

Ilya U. Topper: Die heimlichen Gebete marokkanischer Christen