Reviving the Music of the Last Jewish Record Label Left Standing Under Nazi Rule

Dec. 19 2016

In 1932, Hirsch Levin founded Semer Records, a label devoted to producing and preserving the music of Jewish Berlin. Six years later, on Kristallnacht, the Nazis burned 4,500 of Semer’s records, subsequently destroying all of its master recordings and murdering most of its artists. For nearly 50 years, this music was thought lost until, scouring the globe for surviving records, a German musicologist successfully reconstituted much of Semer’s catalogue.

Now a group of Jewish musicians calling themselves the Semer Ensemble has recorded an album of twelve of these rescued songs. Rescued Treasure covers a range of styles from cabaret to pop originally sung by the German Jewish star Willy Rosen.

Among the five Yiddish-language songs on the album is “Scholem Baith” (“domestic tranquility”), about a dysfunctional couple who repeatedly argue and make up. “With its absurd threats of suicide,” Jordan Kutzik writes, “vicious curses and an over-the-top yet unironic sensibility, the routine serves as a charming remnant of a nearly-forgotten Yiddish cabaret tradition.”

Listen to one of the songs here:

Read more at Forward

More about: Arts & Culture, German Jewry, History & Ideas, Kristallnacht, Music

Hamas Won’t Compromise with the Palestinian Authority, and Gazans Won’t Overthrow Hamas

July 24 2017

Since the terrorist organization Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, much of Israeli strategy toward it has stemmed from the belief that, if sufficient pressure is applied, the territory’s residents will rise up against it. Yaakov Amidror argues this is unlikely to happen, and he also doubts that improved living conditions for ordinary Gazans would deter Hamas from terrorism or war:

The hardships experienced by the Strip’s residents, no matter how terrible, will not drive them to stage a coup to topple Hamas. The organization is entrenched in Gaza and is notorious for its brutality toward any sign of dissidence, and the Palestinians know there is no viable alternative waiting for an opportunity to [take over].

[Therefore], it is time everyone got used to the idea that Hamas is not about to relinquish its dominant position in the Gaza Strip, let alone concede to the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas. . . . [Yet the] assumption is also baseless that if Gaza experiences economic stability and prosperity, Hamas would refrain from provoking hostilities. This misconception is based on the theory that Hamas operates by governmental norms and prioritizes the needs and welfare of its citizens. This logic does not apply to Hamas. . . .

[Hamas’s] priorities are to bolster its military power and cement its iron grip. This is why all the supplies Israel allows into Gaza on a daily basis to facilitate normal life have little chance of reaching the people. Hamas first and foremost takes care of its leaders and makes sure it has what it needs to sustain its terror-tunnel-digging enterprise and its weapon-production efforts. It then sees to the needs of its members, and then—and only then—what little is left is diverted to rehabilitation efforts that benefit the population.

This is why the argument that Israel is responsible for Gaza’s inability to recover from its plight is baseless. Hamas is the one that determines the priorities by which to allocate resources in the enclave, and the more construction materials that enter Gaza, the easier and faster it is for Hamas to restore its military capabilities. Should Israel sacrifice its own security on the altar of Gazans’ living conditions? I don’t think so.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security