The Grave of a Great Yiddish Poet Has Been Found in Siberia

In the aftermath of World War II, Joseph Stalin began to adopt policies of official anti-Semitism, which included the arrest and eventual execution of many leading figures of Yiddish theater and literature. Among them was Pinḥas Kahanovitsh, known by the pen name Der Nister (“the Hidden One”), whose poetry, short stories, and novels are considered exemplars of Jewish modernism. Two researchers recently discovered his grave in the coal-mining village of Vorkuta above the Arctic Circle. The Jewish Telegraph Agency reports:

Ber Kotlerman, a professor of Yiddish language and literature at Bar-Ilan University, . . . along with a Russian colleague, Moscow State University’s Alexander Polyan, pinpointed the Kahanovitsh’s burial place, . . . using testimonies and blueprints of the gulag that existed there. . . .

Kahanovich was a member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, [assembled by Stalin during World War II for propaganda purposes]. Most of the committee’s members were rearrested in the 1950s, convicted on trumped-up espionage charges, and killed.

Most of the bodies of the victims were dumped in mass graves, but Kahanovich was buried separately because he fell gravely ill while serving a ten-year sentence in the gulag and was transferred for health reasons to a camp for disabled prisoners. He perished in the village of Abez, near Vorkuta, on June 4, 1950.

Many of Der Nister’s colleagues from the Anti-Fascist Committee were killed in August 1952 in what is known as the Night of the Murdered Poets, including Itzik Feffer, Peretz Markish, David Hofshteyn, Leyb Kvitko, and David Bergelson.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, Joseph Stalin, Soviet Jewry, Yiddish literature

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