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

Palestinian Leaders Fight Economic Growth

Jan. 15 2019

This month, a new shopping mall opened in northeastern Jerusalem, easily accessible to most of the city’s Arab residents. Rami Levy, the supermarket magnate who owns the mall, already employs some 2,000 Israeli Arabs and Palestinians at his other stores, and the mall will no doubt bring more jobs to Arab Jerusalemites. But the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are railing against it, and one newspaper calls its opening “an economic catastrophe [nakba].” Bassam Tawil writes:

For [the PA president] Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah officials . . . the image of Palestinians and Jews working in harmony is loathsome. . . . Instead of welcoming the inauguration of the shopping mall for providing job opportunities to dozens of Palestinians and lower prices [to consumers], Fatah officials are taking about an Israeli plan to “undermine” the Palestinian economy. . . . The hundreds of Palestinians who flooded the new mall on its first day, however, seem to disagree with the grim picture painted by [these officials]. . . .

The campaign of incitement against Levy’s shopping mall began several months ago, as it was being built, and has continued until today. Now that the campaign has failed to prevent the opening of the mall, Fatah and its followers have turned to outright threats and violence. The threats are being directed toward Palestinian shoppers and Palestinian merchants who rented space in the new mall. On the day the mall was opened, Palestinians threw a number of firebombs at the compound, [which] could have injured or killed Palestinians. The [bomb-throwers], who are believed to be affiliated with Fatah, would rather see their own people dead than having fun or buying attractively-priced products at an Israeli mall.

By spearheading this campaign of incitement and intimidation, Abbas’s Fatah is again showing its true colors. How is it possible to imagine that Abbas or any of his Fatah lieutenants would ever make peace with Israel when they cannot even tolerate the idea of Palestinians and Jews working together for a simple common good? If a Palestinian who buys Israeli milk is a traitor in the eyes of Fatah, it is not difficult to imagine the fate of any Palestinian who would dare to discuss compromise with Israel.

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More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian economy