The Surprising Return of Yiddish to Film and Television

Dec. 20 2016

Over the past decade, writes Rebecca Margolin, there has been a “small renaissance” of movies and television shows that employ the Yiddish language. These include films produced in the U.S. and Europe featuring actors that have learned Yiddish for their parts, brief Yiddish-language scenes in the movie A Serious Man and the television series My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, an all-Yiddish Internet comedy series, and an action movie produced by and for Ḥasidim that features no profanity, no women, and a redemptive ending. Margolin describes the last of these:

A Gesheft (A Deal) was produced fully in what might be termed a “vernacular mode”: its directors, actors, and viewers were all members of a Yiddish-speaking ḥasidic community that produces and consumes media in Yiddish. . . .

The film, which follows the story of a corrupt ḥasidic character who ultimately finds redemption, abides by ḥaredi norms of behavior and morality . . . . Likewise, the moral conflicts of the film are resolved when the anti-hero achieves the forgiveness of the man whom he has wronged by devoting himself to the study of sacred Jewish texts until the end of his life. . . .

The relative moral turpitude of a character can be ascertained by how much English—a symbol of American integration—he incorporates into his Yiddish; the only character to die on screen uses extensive English slang.

Read more at In Geveb

More about: Arts & Culture, Film, Haredim, Popular culture, Television, Yiddish

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