Extracts from the Sep 2004 Journal

Auto-suggested victimhood (editorial)

In 1928 Hitler drew deafening cheers from his listeners with the subsequently oft-repeated mantra 'Jahrzehnte lang war Deutschland der brutalsten Undterdrückung preisgegeben' (For decades Germany was subjected to the most brutal oppression). He made this utterance precisely nine years after the so-called diktat of Versailles, which, though harsh, did not compare in severity with the treaty of Brest-Litovsk Germany had previously imposed on Russia. [more...]

Can Levys levitate as well?

The award of the Orange Prize for Fiction to Sandra Levy for her novel Small Island raises a tantalising possibility. Could it be that the novelist, who is of purely Afro-Caribbean stock, adopted the pseudonym Levy as a tribute to the extraordinarily talented tribe of that name, just as the Chilean poet Neftali Reyes called himself Pablo Neruda in homage to the Czech writer Jan Neruda? [more...]

PC World

The statue of St James, 'the Moor slayer' - icon of the Christians' century-long struggle to wrest back control of Spain from the Muslims - is about to be removed from the great pilgrim church at Santiago de Compostella. For nearly two millennia St James, allegedly a cousin of Jesus, was revered for having spread Christianity to the westernmost reaches of Europe. Legend has it that several centuries after his death his apparition on a cloud above the battlefield inspired a crucial Christian victory over the Moors. Now his statue, with its triumphalist depiction of the warrior-saint treading a headless Saracen underfoot, is considered an affront to the sensibilities of the many Moroccan residents of Spain. [more...]

Art notes

The message of the political cartoonist is cynical and revelatory. Twice Promised Land, at the Guardian and Observer Archive and Visitor Centre (60 Farringdon Road, London EC1), makes few concessions to Israel's troubled land, her political judgements, or the tragic past from which she was born. What it does offer is the cartoonist's nous - or nose for the rumbles below the surface, the wit to present them sharply, and the skill to seek out the Achilles heel. [more...]

Full circle

Milena Roth
University of Washington Press, £18.95 (tel 01235 465500); Amazon £11.40 [more...]

Letter from Israel

On a recent visit to London, I picked up a copy of the Jewish Chronicle, just for old time's sake. The paper seems to have undergone several transformations since the 1960s, when I used to read it. [more...]

Central Office for Holocaust Claims

Holocaust commission's humanitarian payments

The International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims has begun the process of disbursing token amounts of compensation in respect of unpaid Holocaust era insurance policies. The $1,000 (£600) awards were made where a claimant demonstrated strong anecdotal evidence - such as recalling the visits of an insurance salesman to collect monthly premiums - that a policy existed. [more...]