Germany and the Unfolding Tragedy in Gaza

by Andrea Scrima

In November 2023, in an essay for the German national newspaper die taz, I wrote that Germany’s Jews were once again afraid for their lives. It was—and is—a shameful state of affairs, considering that the country has invested heavily in coming to terms with its fascist past and has made anti-antisemitism and the unconditional support of Israel part of its “Staatsräson,” or national interest—or, as others have come to define it, the reason for the country’s very existence. The Jews I’m referring to here, however, were not reacting to a widely deplored lack of empathy following the brutal attacks of October 7. In an open letter initiated by award-winning American journalist Ben Mauk and others, more than 100 Jewish writers, journalists, scientists, and artists living in Germany described a political climate where any form of compassion with Palestinian civilians was (and continues to be) equated with support for Hamas and criminalized. Assaults on the democratic right to dissent in peaceful demonstrations; cancellations of publications, fellowships, professorships, and awards; police brutality against the country’s immigrant population, liberal-minded Jews, and other protesting citizens—the effects have been widely documented, but what matters most now is now: the fact that the German press is still, four months later, nearly monovocal in its support of Israel and that over 28,000 civilians, two-thirds of them women and children, have died. Read more »

Seeing Double

by Gautam Pemmaraju

Thro’ the Heaven and Earth and Hell

Thou Shalt never, never quell:

I will fly and thou pursue:

Night and morn the flight renew’.

From William Blake's My Spectre Around Me Day And Night

Once I happened to see two brothers, tennis champions, matched against one another; their strokes were totally different, and one of the two was far, far better than the other; but the general rhythm of their actions as they swept all over the court was exactly the same, so that had it been possible to draft both systems two identical designs would have appeared.

4014356308_323c6365a8In search of the derelict details of his deceased half brother, V, the narrator of Nabokov’s The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, offers these words while reflecting upon the mysterious cadences that seem to be mirrored between siblings. But here, the sibling in no mere blood brother, he is no mere adventurer who sought fortune in a distant land, reinventing himself in name, manner and consciousness, but is instead in some sense, a projected second self, a döppelganger, an adrift double of V. Sebastian Knight, the gloomy maladroit émigré, whose successful literary conquests of the English language, driven in part by his unsuccessful attempts to ‘out-England England’ as V observes, was the ‘other’ – a phantasmagoric illusion of sorts, who had walked the path before him. The path of course, is no clear or easy one; it is instead chancy and treacherous; it is at times, labyrinthine and inscrutable, but as V discovers in ‘following the bends of his life’: “I daresay Sebastian and I also had some kind of common rhythm”. A sense of déjà vu, of an ‘it-happening-before’ twinship, persistently accosts V as he journeys on to trace Sebastian’s meandering and desolate path, leading ultimately, to the circumstances of his death.

Read more »