The “Irish Oskar Schindler”

As depicted in the 1983 film The Scarlet and the Black, Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty (played by Gregory Peck), an Irish priest serving in the Vatican, worked to keep hundreds of Jews out of the hands of the Nazis. A group in his hometown is now petitioning Yad Vashem to recognize him. Michael Riordan writes:

O’Flaherty grew up the son of a golf steward in Killarney, Ireland, and his skill at the game helped ease his way into Roman society. The priest played with social luminaries like Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law Count Galeazzo Ciano, as well as the former king of Spain. All of his connections were to become very useful when he took on the unforeseen mantle of rescuer.

In the last years of the war, as the Italian government collapsed, O’Flaherty organized a group of priests, anti-fascists, and diplomats to help shelter Jews, escaped POWs, and refugees. He set up a network of safe havens in rented apartments and religious houses throughout Rome. . . .

After the Gestapo became aware of O’Flaherty’s activities they painted a white line across St. Peter’s Square, dividing the neutral Vatican from fascist-controlled Rome. They placed guards nearby ready to snatch the Monsignor if he ever crossed. As a result O’Flaherty became known locally as the Scarlet Pimpernel because of the many disguises he donned during his forays into the capital.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Catholic Church, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Ireland, Italy, Righteous Among the Nations

The Reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Staying Power

Nov. 20 2018

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have narrowly avoided the collapse of his governing coalition despite the fact that one party, Yisrael Beiteinu, withdrew and another, the Jewish Home, threatened to follow suit. Moreover, he kept the latter from defecting without conceding its leader’s demand to be appointed minister of defense. Even if the government were to collapse, resulting in early elections, Netanyahu would almost certainly win, writes Elliot Jager:

[Netanyahu’s] detractors think him Machiavellian, duplicitous, and smug—willing to do anything to stay in power. His supporters would not automatically disagree. Over 60 percent of Israelis tell pollsters that they will be voting for a party other than Likud—some supposing their favored party will join a Netanyahu-led coalition while others hoping against the odds that Likud can be ousted.

Opponents would [also] like to think the prime minister’s core voters are by definition illiberal, hawkish, and religiously inclined. However, the 30 percent of voters who plan to vote Likud reflect a broad segment of the population. . . .

Journalists who have observed Netanyahu over the years admire his fitness for office even if they disagree with his actions. A strategic thinker, Netanyahu’s scope of knowledge is both broad and deep. He is a voracious reader and a quick study. . . . Foreign leaders may not like what he says but cannot deny that he speaks with panache and authority. . . .

The prime minister or those around him are under multiple police investigations for possible fraud and moral turpitude. Under Israel’s system, the police investigate and can recommend that the attorney general issue an indictment. . . . Separately, Mrs. Netanyahu is in court for allegedly using public monies to pay for restaurant meals. . . . The veteran Jerusalem Post political reporter Gil Hoffman maintains that Israelis do not mind if Netanyahu appears a tad corrupt because they admire a politician who is nobody’s fool. Better to have a political figure who cannot be taken advantage of than one who is incorruptible but naïve.

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Read more at Jager File

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics