Iran’s Occupation

September 10

While predictably blaming Israel, Tehran forcibly suppresses its own homegrown Arab national movements. BDS, where are you?

Read more at Mida

More about: Arab nationalism, Arab Spring, BDS, Iran, Israel


Will Mahmoud Abbas Reject Security Cooperation with Israel?

October 22

Extensive security cooperation between the PA and Israel has saved the West Bank from a Hamas takeover and Mahmoud Abbas from assassination. It has also saved the lives of countless Israeli citizens. Speaking to a group of Jewish leaders, Abbas (in a rare moment) said that it is “sacred, sacred.” Yet, writes Steven J. Rosen, security cooperation is also a liability for Abbas, in that it makes him look excessively accommodating with Israel in the eyes of his own population. The strain is sufficient to force us to take Abbas’s threats to end security cooperation seriously:

Recent events have put a strain on the security cooperation that Dayton built in 2005-2010. . . . Many Palestinians in the West Bank as well as Gaza were heartened by the fact that Hamas was able to launch 4,564 rockets and mortars from Gaza into the Israeli heartland, even though few found their targets. Hamas was seen as an effective fighting force standing up to the Israelis, while the Palestinian Authority was dismissed as ineffectual. Many voices were raised calling on Abbas to adopt a more militant posture toward Israel and to end his cooperation with the hated “Israeli regime.” Under this pressure, in recent months PA President Mahmoud Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel, even including the idea that he will terminate the security cooperation with Israel if his political demands are not met.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, West Bank

South Asia Has Few Jews, But Many Anti-Semites

October 22

Jews and Muslims have lived together in the Indian subcontinent for many centuries, and have often had close ties. India’s only Hebrew scribe, for instance, is a Muslim, as is the country’s only tombstone engraver in Hebrew. A devout Muslim is responsible for reviving the study of Hebrew at Indian universities. Elsewhere, however, there has been a rise in anti-Semitism, especially in Pakistan, and violent attacks, though rare, have not been limited to the murder of Daniel Pearl or the 2008 Mumbai attack. Anti-Semitism has also had diplomatic implications, writes Navras Jaat Aafreedi:

The Muslim antagonism toward Jews has also been a major influence on foreign policy in South Asia. It is for this reason that the policy has often been one of having relations with Israel secretly, not publicly, lest it provoke the general Muslim masses. Pakistan and Bangladesh still do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, though the Pakistani state has actually always maintained secret ties with Israel just as India did before the establishment of open diplomatic relations between the two states. While the Muslim factor alone would not suffice to explain Indian policy toward the Middle East, it did play a considerable role in some critical decisions taken by India. . . . It took India two years to recognize Israel and it did so only after both Shiite and Sunni countries had recognized Israel (Iran and Turkey). Former Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh was candid enough to admit during a state visit to Israel in July 2000 that Indian Muslim sentiment against Israel kept India from establishing diplomatic relations with Israel until 1992.

Read more at Asian Jewish Life

More about: Anti-Semitism, Bangladesh, Indian Jewry, Israel-India relations, Pakistan


A Canadian Art Dealer’s Legacy Is Helping to Locate Works Looted by the Nazis

October 22

Max Stern, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, established himself as a successful art dealer in Montreal and went on to revolutionize the Canadian art world. He never spoke of his experiences as a refugee, or mentioned that he and his father had been prominent art dealers in prewar Düsseldorf. Nor did he make public the fact that the Nazis looted his father’s collection. Now, twenty years after his death, researchers are trying to track down 200 paintings the Nazis forced him to sell in 1937, and to return other looted works to their rightful owners as well. A typical story:

The project’s first big break came in January 2005, when the Art Loss Register (ALR) contacted [Clarence] Epstein [the overseer of Stern’s cultural property] about a 19th-century work by Franz Xaver Winterhalter called Girl from the Sabine Mountains. Off the art market for 68 years, the painting of a peasant woman resting languidly by a tree had been consigned to Estates Unlimited, a small Rhode Island auction house, by Maria-Louise Bissonnette, an octogenarian German baroness who lived in Providence. On behalf of the Stern estate, the ALR’s historic-claims department requested the auction house withdraw the painting from the sale, and the Holocaust Claims Processing Office sent Bissonnette a letter asking her to return it to the Stern estate.

The baroness refused, claiming she had inherited the work from her mother, whose second husband, Karl Wilharm, purchased it at the 1937 Lempertz sale. Disputing—or ignoring—the fact that her stepfather was a high-ranking member of Hitler’s storm troopers, she offered his bill of sale as evidence that the work was hers. “Why should I give the painting back,” she asked, “when there is no proof that it was a forced sale?”

Read more at Walrus

More about: Art, Canada, German Jewry, Holocaust restitution

"Death of Klinghoffer" Is Immoral, but Not an Endorsement of Terrorism

October 22

There is nothing inherently wrong with making an opera about a terrorist attack, argues Walter Russell Mead in his review of the Met’s production of The Death of Klinghoffer. The opera does not defend the terrorists who murdered Leon Klinghoffer, even if its attempts at moral sophistication fall flat. Nor is the problem the music, although it frequently calls to mind words “like boring, cliché, and predictable,” or the libretto, “a self-conscious and not particularly successful effort to achieve a high poetic tone [that] often comes across as awkward and long.” The opera’s real failing lies elsewhere, writes Mead:

If I were [Met Director] Peter Gelb, I would have declined to put the opera on, but not on political grounds. I would not have wanted to associate myself with what amounts to psychological rape, and I would not have staged it against the wishes of the murdered man’s family. Dehumanizing Leon Klinghoffer, turning him from a human being into a symbol in their political theater, is what the terrorists did on the Achille Lauro; John Adams and Alice Goodman echo this violation by trampling on the family’s privacy and wishes, stripping the Klinghoffers of their rights and dignity and using them as props.

Read more at American Interest

More about: Death of Klinghoffer, Metropolitan Opera, Opera, Terrorism


Patrick Modiano, Nobel Prize-Winning French Novelist of the Holocaust

October 22

Patrick Modiano, recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, has made French Jewry, and the Holocaust, the main subjects of his four-decade literary career. Much of his work has been informed by the experiences of his own father, a Salonikan Jew who survived the war as a collaborator. Modiano’s work helped push France toward coming to grips with its own participation in the murder of its Jews, writes Clémence Boulouque:

With his hallucinatory debut and the two books that followed, also centered on the Occupation and first-person accounts of traitors or sons of collaborators, Modiano signaled a shift in the Zeitgeist and subsequent self-perception of France. La Place de l’Etoile came out a few months before Marcel Ophuls’s movie The Sorrow and the Pity, which dealt with the complex question of passivity and collaboration in the small town of Clermont-Ferrand—a microcosm of France. Robert O. Paxton’s Vichy France was published in 1972. France had embarked on a soul-searching journey about the country’s wartime past, and Modiano’s work was a key part of the ousting of the postwar myth of a “nation of resisters” and the ushering in of an era of gray zones and elusive moral clarity.

Read more at Tablet

More about: French Jewry, Holocaust fiction, Jewish literature, Nobel Prize, Patrick Modiano